BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
FOUR people were killed and 220 others left homeless in Bikita after Cyclone Idai spread to Masvingo province at the weekend, district development co-ordinator Bernard Hadzirambwi told journalists on Tuesday after a meeting with Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira.
Parts of Masvingo province, including Bikita, Zaka, Gutu and Masvingo district, were in the path of the destructive storm that was accompanied by heavy rains and strong winds that demolished houses, bridges, roads as well as power and communication
Hadzirambwi, who is chairperson of the district department of civil protection, said the Tuesday figures show that at least 2 106 houses collapsed, adding that they were still compiling statistics because some areas were inaccessible, while information from nine wards was yet to reach his office.
“So far, (the death toll) stands at four and the figure of the homeless stands at 220. Two girls aged 12 and six and a 65-year-old woman as well as another man whose age was estimated to around 28 lost their lives during the devastating cyclone. The 220 homesteads were destroyed and the accumulative reported figure of affected households, which lost one or two houses, so far stands at 2 106,” Hadzirambwi said.
“The damage was across the district. Our major roads were extensively damaged and a major bridge at Musaizi was swept away. Roads to ward 25 in the resettlement areas, as well as communication have been cut off. We are yet to receive reports from nine wards.
“Aid is starting to trickle in and so far we have received help from the Red Cross, Bikita Minerals, and government. We are appealing to well-wishers to donate to this worthy cause,” Hadzirabwi added.
Among the four who died in Bikita were two schoolchildren in Muchokore village, whose hut collapsed due to heavy rains.
A survivor of the storm, Shelter Machangu Chivasa of Chivasa village under Chief Marozva, whose hut collapsed during the storm, said she had a traumatic experience.
“We thank God we survived. When my hut fell, I thought I was going to lose my main house also. I was praying through and through, that we be protected. I also feel I am lucky to lose only a kitchen hut, others are now homeless. This was the worst cyclone I have ever seen. The experience was traumatic,” Chivasa said.
Bikita Development Forum, a group of community members, who came together and pooled resources to help the less-privileged, said it was now sourcing funds to help the victims.
“It seems the whole world is pouring resources to Chipinge and Chimanimani only, whereas people in other parts like Bikita are equally in need of help. As a forum, we have been mobilising resources for different initiatives, including sanitary pads for school-going girls,” forum representative Vincent Mpamhadzi said.
“We have also mobilised resources for doctors to give free consultancy to rural clients. As children from Bikita, we are mobilising resources to respond to the cyclone. All those who can join us are welcome. No donation is too little in this calamity.”