Flood Victims Evacuated

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK Emergency officials have started evacuating to higher, drier ground several hundreds of villagers whose huts were swamped by record floods in the Sibbinda Constituency in the Caprivi Region. Acting Caprivi Regional Governor Leonard Mwilima said the rescue operation initiated by the Regional Emergency Management Unit (REMU) that commenced last week would be conclu-ded by the end of this week. He said up to 500 students and hundreds of villagers are being evacuated by truck to higher, drier ground. The above-average rain has inundated many huts in villages at Malengalenga, Sangwali, Lianshulu and Sachona where maize fields are also flooded, while some thatched huts have collapsed. Dorothy Kabula, the Regional Councillor for Li-nyanti Constituency said Lizauli, a settlement located near Lianshulu, was also flooded. The flooding is historic in the sense that these villages are located outside the flood-prone, lower-lying Kabbe Constituency. He said those who have incurred property losses as a result of the floods were being given free mattresses and blankets. “We received beds and mattresses but they are still not enough. From the local Red Cross, we put a request to their head office for assistance in any way they can assist,” said Mwilima, who is acting as Governor following the suspension of Bernard Sibalatani. Sibalatani and Raymond Matiti, the Chief Regional Executive Officer, are presently on suspension for their role in the food debacle in which over 200 tonnes of food meant for flood victims was ruined. Felix Mukupi, the Regional Councillor for Sib-binda and Gabriel Kangowa, the head of the Emergency Management Unit (EMU) visited Sibbinda and other flood-affected areas over the weekend. Mwilima also said if the current rain pattern persists, the settlement at Mafuta, some 10 km in Katima Rural outside the town would also need some assistance as some homes there are flooded. Lovemore Lupalezwi, the acting Regional Director of the Caprivi said a school principal at Sibbinda made a request for tents. He told this newspaper that the situation at Sibbinda was so bad that he wondered “where on earth are they going to pitch these tents?” He said during a recent visit, he counted several teachers’ huts damaged by floods while underground water appears contaminated with cow-dung that seeped into the ground from the kraals dotting that area. Villagers in the Kabbe Constituency are already bracing for floods as the level of the Zambezi River is rising though it is still low. Beaven Sisamu the meteorological observer at Katima Mulilo said though the maximum average annual rainfall for Caprivi is between 600 mm and 700 mm, this figure has already been surpassed this year. Since the onset of the rainy season, the amount of precipitation measured from last October to February stood at a record 772,8 mm. Last November, the far northeastern region received 97,7 mm; in December the area received rainfall measuring 262,2 mm. In January, it was 126,4 mm and in February it increased to 291,5 mm, he said. “We are expecting more showers,” said the meteorological observer.