Lüderitz Takes Stock

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK After a lengthy emergency meeting two days ago, the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Town Council has drawn up a comprehensive preliminary report about the devastating effects the recent downpours had on the coastal town. Confirming this to New Era this week, the Regional Councillor of the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz constituency David Shoombe said the preliminary report, which will eventually be handed over to the Office of the Prime Minister, looks into the extent of the damage caused to families, housing and business infrastructure at the town. Close to 500 households were affected by the floods that also crippled major businesses and left between 1 400 and 1 600 in need of assistance. Due to the heavy rains that fell over the weekend measuring over 100 mm over the course of Friday and Saturday, people living in the shack settlement of Area Seven were left without any roofs over their heads. Area Seven is in a low-lying area making it prone to rain water damage and is also constructed on top of old sewerage ponds. With stagnant pools of water still visible in and around the town, there is fear of a cholera outbreak especially amongst children. According to Shoombe, most of the affected were moved to higher ground while some were accommodated in school hostels. New Era learnt that by Monday, life was slowly returning to normal as people cleaned up the water-drenched structures and damaged residences. Although there were no human casualties, the water inflicted some heavy damage to buildings. “There’s damage to buildings and houses, the sewerage pipes are broken and electricity and roads are severely affected. There was also damage to the main reservoir as the pipe burst and for two days we had no water,” explained Shoombe. Establishments affected include the Namibia Breweries Depot, and the prison and army camps. The residential suburb of Burenkamp close to the lagoon was also severely hit as most of the houses were halfway submerged in the raging floodwaters. The roads of Benguela 7 were completely destroyed. The shack dwellers at Area 7, where the access road from the south was completely washed away, have started rebuilding their settlements on higher ground and are hoping for some kind of assistance. The drainage systems in Benguela and Nautilus were also badly damaged with drains spilling over with sewerage, while most pipes were visible and uncovered. Shoombe noted that the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Town Council would appreciate any kind of relief assistance. However, since Monday, donations have been pouring in with assistance like food and blankets being provided by the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Namibia Red Cross Society plans to provide similar support. Although there were no showers yesterday, large water ponds were still evident in the open desert area. In the meantime, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the President have been well informed about the latest devastation by flooding and the Karas Regional Council would meet yesterday to critically analyse the situation. According to statistics from the Windhoek Meteorological Services, rainfall at the coast over the past weekend has been high, leaving towns to be swamped by rainwater since their drainage systems are not conducive for heavy rain. On Friday LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz town recorded rainfall of 21,4 mm, the past Sunday 1,2 mm and a week prior to that on Sunday 16th of April 4,6 mm. However, it is anticipated that the rainfall at the coast will gradually subside. In Walvis Bay, municipal officials have been working hard to restore the situation after the heavy rains there. “We anticipate that things may be back to normal (soon) if we do not receive any further rains,” said the public relations officer of the Walvis Bay Municipality Utaara Hoveka in an email. The municipality has built more catch-pits to prevent a situation whereby low-lying houses are affected by rainwater. Catch-pits are man-made holes which reduce the amount of water left on the roads after rains. The catch-pits will in turn transfer the water to the sewerage system, and this water will be used for gardens and toilets. “The rain has also swamped away considerable amounts of sand in some parts of town, making underground electrical pipes visible. The municipality is also working hard to restore this situation,” said Hoveka.