#CycloneDineo's effects on SA: What you need to know

2017-02-16 07:22 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - As the tropical cyclone Dineo is nearing South Africa, the province of KwaZulu-Natal and Kruger National Park have activated its disaster management teams saying they will leave nothing to chance. 

UPDATE: #Dineo hits SA: Stormy weekend ahead

A statement released by the National Emergency Operational Centre (CENOE) warns that the Category Four cyclone could bring high winds of up to 200 kilometres an hour with the likelihood of rainfall of more than 100 millimetres in 24 hours.

SEE: ALERT: Mozambique braces for 200km/h winds as Dineo barrels in, SA actions disaster teams

South Africa will start to experience the rain from this tropical system on Thursday over the Lowveld, spreading westwards by Friday, CENOE says. 

At a media briefing about the cyclone on Wednesday, 15 February, KZN's Cooperative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said that the province's disaster management teams are on full alert for storms and floods that may come from the approaching tropical cyclone on Thursday and Friday, 16 and 17 February. 

SEE: Ex-cyclone #Dineo still wields destructive SA risk over next 48hrs

Dube-Ncube said that the uMkhanyakude and Zululand districts, especially, were to take all alerts and warnings seriously.

Disaster management teams had also been communicating with various community forums to ensure message about the approaching cyclone gets out to residents in time. "This is not to make people panic," Dube-Ncube says, "but to be aware of possibilities of the weather situation". 

In Limpopo too, a multi-stakeholder team comprising members of South African Police Service, South African National Defence Force, traffic officials, South Africa's Social Security Agency and local ambulance services, has been assembled by the province's Department of Cooperative Governance to be on standby when the storm hits. 

“Arising from this alert, we have developed a contingency plan to mitigate and respond to this possible disastrous event," Limpopo's Department of Cooperative Governance says. "All district municipalities were informed about the approaching cyclone and National Disaster Management centre will activate the helicopter in case of need,” they say. 

According to the South African Weather Service, rain is expected over the central, eastern parts and north-eastern of the country on Thursday.

This is what the cyclone's path of destruction looks like so far, since making landfall in Mozambique late on Wednesday, 15 February. In Inhambane, about 500 km north of the capital Maputo, television footage showed roofs blown off houses, electricity pylons uprooted and trees sprawled across the streets.

In KZN or Limpopo? Here's what you can do  

If you are facing an emergency due to the cyclone, you can contact the official KwaZulu-Natal disaster and emergency teams on the toll-free number 0800 000 953/4.  

In Limpopo, the toll free number 0800 222 111 has been activated for 24 hours diverted to Senior Management after hours.

You can also engage with The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, who operates the province's disaster management teams, on Twitter

Whole of Kruger on Alert

Kruger National Park spokesperson William Mabasa told Traveller24, "The cyclone will possibly hit the whole park as it is. Visitors who are in the Park on Friday and Saturday must take precautions and stay in the camps if it rains."

Visitors in distress can also call the emergency centre numbers 013 735 0197 or 076 801 9679.

"The same numbers can be used by those who are planning to come to the park to enquire about the situation in case it rains. Most of the areas in the park do not have cell phone coverage therefore social media such FB can also assist in such cases by posting on our SANParks Kruger page." 

What are flash floods?

Flash floods occur within few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall. This may be caused by a blocked storm water drain or a dam failure or a severe and heavy rainstorm. 

Nearly half of all flash flood deaths are auto related, so never drive or let anyone drive through flood waters. Roads could be washed out under the strong currents. And if your car stalls in just 60cm of moving water, the water will have enough force to lift up your car and carry it away. 

If a flash flood warning has been issued for your area, act immediately. You may only have seconds before flood waters appear. 

If flooding occurs: 

Immediately move to higher ground or stay on high ground
Evacuate if directed by officials 
Avoid walking or driving through flood waters

Motorist Safety

NEVER drive into water covering the road. You do not know how deep it is or if the road is washed away. 
Turn around and go the other way! 
Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges and low areas. 
If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. 
Be cautious, especially at night when visibility is impaired. 
Do not park your vehicle along streams, particularly during threatening conditions.  

Cyclone Safety Tips 

The following tips could be useful if you find yourself in the affected areas, as recommend by Resilium Insurance. 

Preparing for a cyclone

Assemble an emergency kit that includes things like first aid supplies, torch, battery operated portable radio, important documents and medicines.
Regularly clear gutters and rubbish from around your property.
Ensure your family members and/or employees know how to turn off mains supply for water, power and gas.
Make sure your property has clear access for emergency services.
Have an evacuation plan and discuss with your family and/or employees.
Regularly check the condition of your property’s roof and arrange the repair of any loose tiles, eaves or roof screws.
Fit windows with shutters or metal screens.
Ensure your vehicle is in good working order.
If you receive a warning for your area, charge your mobile battery and fill up the car if possible.

At the onset a cyclone

First and foremost, the safety of you, your loved ones and employees should come first. 
Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice.
If safe to do so, move your vehicle undercover and secure any outdoor furniture and other items. 
Fill buckets, sinks and baths with water in case the water supply becomes restricted.
Gather everyone indoors including any pets.
Stay away from doors, windows and exterior walls.
Turn off all electricity, gas and water and unplug all appliances.

During a cyclone

Listen to your portable radio for updates and remain indoors until advised.
If an official evacuation order is issued, you must leave immediately and seek shelter elsewhere.

After a cyclone

If you have been evacuated, don’t return to your property or vehicle until authorities confirm it is safe to do so.
Flooding can occur after a cyclone. Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice.
Stay away from damaged areas and properties.
Don’t use electrical appliances that have been wet until they’ve been checked for safety by a professional.
Drinking water may be contaminated, so listen out for news reports to confirm whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
Take photos and dispose of any items that have been affected by contaminated flood waters.
If you have been evacuated, only return to your property when authorities indicate it is safe.
Stay away from damaged power lines, fallen trees and flood waters. 

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