Several residents are feared to be homeless and to have lost personal property around Rumphi Boma to massive floods that battered the district following two and half hours of rains that poured down on Friday.
According to residents in the five villages of Mputa, Jeyeka, Malima, Zikome and Mkhwema, houses have been destroyed and people’s property such as bags of maize, fertilizer, clothing and beddings all swept away.
Senior Village Headman Jeyeka, a high profiled community leader whose house is close to Mawerewere Stream, has personally been affected by the tragedy.
According to Jeyeka, the raging water barrelled through the rear door of his house into the sitting room and punched out the front door of the house.
Everything that was in the sitting room, adjacent bedrooms and store rooms like sofa, cooking utensils, coffee table, suitcases packed with clothes, mattresses and beddings were taken away by the raging water.
“We were very lucky that the disaster occurred during the afternoon hours, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking to you now. We would have been dead,” said Jeyeka.
His wife, Nolice Gondwe who at the time was at home, witnessed the tragedy as it unfolded. She had to escape at the neighbouring houses till the situation deteriorated.
“I was in the house when rains started. I was sleeping on the sofa when water seeped in below the front door. As I was wondering what was going on, more water poured in then my suitcase and our clothing floated away.
“I had to take a mop to wade through the raging water to retrieve the remaining clothes and beddings that were on point of being swept away. At that point, water was in the waist level,” explained Gondwe with a tinge of sadness in her voice.
In Malima Village alone, 20 households have borne the brunt of the disaster following the rains that poured heavily after a two-week dry spell.
“I can confirm that 20 households in my village have been made homeless after their houses were destroyed by the Friday and Saturday rains.
“Some have been taken in by friends and neighbours. But most of them have lost everything including, vital documents like academic certificates as well as bags of maize,” explained Group Village Headman Malima.
Elsewhere at the boma, public infrastructure like roads and bridges were not spared by the run-off which tore out the recently patched potholes on some tarmac roads.
A bridge on the footpath linking Chankhomi Community Day Secondary School and the District Hospital, which was repaired last summer, has been torn to its foundation. Should a disaster of similar magnitude recur, it will completely collapse.
Meanwhile, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) District Desk Officer, Alufeyo Mhango, has said the number of villages that have been affected is expected to rise upon completion of ongoing assessment that his office is conducting.
Last year (2015), authorities warned that Mawerewere area, where a stream passes through, was disaster- prone because of the human activities taking place in the area.
It was therefore recommended that the activities such as cultivation and building houses close to the stream should cease.
Residents have also been collecting sand along the stream for building purposes and this placed communities living around the area to a heightened risk of floods in future.
District council authorities and traditional leaders from the area had asked people who were collecting sand along Mawerewere Stream to stop the activity as it was a disaster risk.
However, the people concerned resisted and reportedly accused the district council officials of trying to deprive them of their economic livelihood.-ManaFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :