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'We could have died,' says Limpopo man after storm Eloise ravages village

The weather service issued a red level-10 warning for eastern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga for Sunday into Monday.
The weather service issued a red level-10 warning for eastern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga for Sunday into Monday.
Image: 123RF/Vaclav Volrab

The community of Luvhalani in the Vhembe district of Limpopo is picking up the pieces after tropical storm Eloise hit from Sunday morning.

Mbongiseni Muvhuso heard a heavy splashing about 4am on Sunday, and he went outside to inspect. As a precaution, he asked his wife to start packing a bag for their children — but soon, the water was at his door.  

“There was so much pressure. The water was violent and we had to wait for a while before we went to my uncle’s house for refuge. I feared for the lives of my children and wife. It's not nice waking your children that early and everything is wet,” Muvhuso said.  

He said the whole community rallied about and used buckets to scoop the water out of his house.

“We live close to a river, so it looked like it reached capacity and overflowed, hence the pressure. All I could think of was that if we stayed at home we would drown ... It was terrifying.” Muvhuso added.

Eloise made landfall in Mozambique on Saturday before it spread to some parts of SA. SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE reported that the coastal city of Beira in Mozambique saw “mild damage” caused by the cyclone, which has since lost its strength and has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The SA Weather Service on Sunday issued a red level-10 warning for eastern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga for Sunday into Monday. The service said this was due to persistent heavy rains with more expected on Monday.

It warned that the heavy rains “will cause serious strain on emergency services. Take extreme caution in these areas”.

Reuters reports that the death toll from the tropical storm rose to at least 12 on Monday, according to figures from authorities across southeastern Africa, where heavy winds, rain and flooding have also destroyed buildings and crops.

“Six people were killed in Mozambique, the country’s National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction reported, while the number of displaced people rose to more than 8,000. Homes, crops and infrastructure were also damaged, flooded, or destroyed.” said the report.  

Gundo Mutavhatsindi, also from Luvhalani, said she lost most of her belongings to the flood.

“The damage was bad for my family. Our television was destroyed, most of the furniture got damaged and my wardrobe fell apart. We couldn’t cook yesterday because everything was wet and we couldn’t touch electrical appliances. Luckily no-one was injured,” she said.

Like the rest of her community, she was woken by the storm.

“It didn’t start off raining bad, but then things changed fast — the next thing we knew we were surrounded by water. It felt like a floodgate was opened, we were so confused because the rainfall was not too much,” she said.

“I’m just glad we survived. We are cleaning up but we think the rain will come back.”  

Meanwhile, a search is under way for a Mpumalanga man who was washed away in floodwaters.

Ian Scher of Rescue SA confirmed that their teams were searching for the man, who was last seen trying to cross a river in the Pilgrim's Rest area.

“The search is ongoing,” he said.

Areas across eastern Mpumalanga have been cut off or badly damaged by floodwaters.


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