The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has warned people living in flood-prone areas in districts such as Nsanje, Chikwawa and Phalombe to move upland.
The warning follows a prediction by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological (MET) Services that there will be heavy downpours in all parts of the country this week which will trigger floods in flood-prone low-lying areas in the South and lakeshore areas.
In a statement released on Sunday signed by MET director Jolamu Nkhokwe, the department says the rains will be characterised by vigorous thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds which can cause damage to lives and property.
According to the statement, from December 18 to 25, 2016 most areas across the country are expected to continue receiving more rains due to the combined effects of the establishment of Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and an influx of Congo air mass.
“The heavy downpours are likely to trigger floods in flood-prone low-lying areas, swelling of rivers in upland areas while strong winds can cause damages to infrastructure such as ripping off roofs from buildings while lightning strikes and hailstones might also cause damages to lives and property,” reads the statement in part.
Reacting to the weather report, Dodma communication officer Jeremiah Mphande said the department is monitoring the situation closely, especially in Bangula and Makhanga in Nsanje and some parts of Chikwawa which are hotspots for flooding.
“We are cautioning those living in such areas to move upland to prevent losing lives and property. We are monitoring the weather closely and are aware of how destructive it can be, considering that 13 districts have already been affected by thunderstorms since the beginning of this rainy season,” he said.
Mphande said starting from December 16 this year, Dodma, in collaboration with the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), started repositioning search and rescue teams in Bangula and Makhanga in Nsanje and some parts of Chikwawa in readiness for any imminent disaster.
He said they have also opened an emergency operation centre in Blantyre where trucks, boats and helicopters will be stationed to swiftly respond to disasters.
According to Mphande, the department is also providing relief items to all affected people in the 13 districts.
Meanwhile, Phalombe and Chikwawa district commissioners (DCs) said despite advising the people several times to move from flood prone areas, some are still reluctant, arguing the rains have not yet intensified.
Phalombe DC Harry Phiri said the council, in conjunction with Dodma, has since set up emergency operation centres in readiness for any disaster.
He pleaded with the people to listen to messages from weather experts and move upland to avoid losing lives and property.
Commenting on the issue, Chikwawa DC Bester Mandele said MDF officers are already in the district. n