ISSUES AT STAKE: Flooding history repeats itself time after time

THE Biblical parable of the ox falling in the ditch on the Sabbath comes to mind.

I once heard a preacher say: ‘If the same ox falls into the same ditch every Sabbath, either get rid of the ox or fill the ditch.’

This came to mind as reports of flooding poured in during the past weekend’s rains.

Sadly, people were left homeless, minus possessions, and stranded.

Emergency services were stretched but responded admirably with whatever resources they could muster, while faith-based organisations, welfare groups, neighbours and sympathetic individuals gave what they could to alleviate the plight of the victims.

Though the amount of rain over such a short period of time could not have been anticipated, questions need to be raised about the fact that many of the affected areas are regularly subjected to such a calamity.

Whether it is the result of poor development planning, or the basic necessity of having to find any place to live, the fact is many of these victims live at the edge of rivers and streams that inevitably burst their banks and flood homes every time there is copious rain.

The danger is that lives can be lost, with the added fear of terrified children watching and hearing the rising waters.

Temporary comfort

Giving these families warm clothes, food and temporary shelter in a hall is short-term comfort, at best.

They need properly located homes in safe areas – a basic human right.

And if needs be, they should be persuaded to move somewhere less dangerous.

On another serious note, at the most recent City of uMhlathuze Exco meeting it was noted that the municipality’s disaster management services do not meet the legal requirements of the Disaster Management Act.

This needs to be remedied as a matter of urgency, as surely it will be.

At present the burden falls on the city’s Fire & Rescue Services, but a fully-fledged, stand-alone unit is a must.

Besides flood and fire disasters, the very nature of the city’s economy makes it vulnerable to chemical, gas and other industrial threats.

Apart from supplying food, clothing and shelter, a proper disaster management entity would include issues such as mass evacuation plans and sabotage threats to critical infrastructure.

There would also not be a scramble to gather speedy donations to meet urgent short-term needs, but a well-structured professional establishment with the necessary logistical and informed reaction capability.

Dave Savides

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