EDITORIAL | Killer floods a sober warning to us all
Families and communities have been ripped apart and left destitute by the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape. At last count, the killer floods in KwaZulu-Natal claimed more than 50 lives, displaced thousands of people and left many others in hospital.
At Port St Johns, 300 people – the majority of whom were already among the most destitute – were evacuated. This has spurred authorities into action, convening urgent meetings to deal with the crisis and get aid to those in need.
President Cyril Ramaphosa returned from his trip to Egypt to assess the flood damage and review the rescue operations under way in KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking in Durban on Wednesday, Ramaphosa highlighted the fact that the floods were ultimately a result of global climate change.
“This is partly what climate change is about‚ it just hits when we least expect it,” Ramaphosa said, adding that the government had prioritised funds to help affected families.
Ramaphosa must be commended for speedily deploying the SA Defence Force to assist in both KwaZulu-Natal and Port St Johns.
But what has become abundantly clear from this entire tragedy is first, we have as a country to take climate change seriously, prepare for the impact it may have on us and gear our policies toward making a meaningful contribution to saving the environment.
Second, the floods have – to a large extent – hit the poorest of the poor the hardest. Their homes – be it shacks or tiny brick structures – are often situated in floodplain areas, offering little protection from the elements.
While we may reasonably expect the government to play a leading role in championing the cause of promoting a culture of caring for our environment, it is up to every one of us to do our bit to make a difference.
It is also in times such as these that we as South Africans need to rally together and assist those who have lost their families, homes and all their belongings.