Barriers and sandbags arrive in South Africa ahead of heavy rains

Another state hit by terrible floods received a helping hand from Italy: special barriers arrived on Thursday.

Four kilometers of DefenCell flood barriers have been dispatched and another 400,000 sandbags are expected to land in the coming days.

The additional support is part of a $4.9 million flood protection package announced Sunday, in addition to an existing $9.1 million commitment to build new dams and repair existing ones.

South African Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said the government is doing everything it can to make sure people living in areas at high risk of flooding have the resources they need to get through the next few months.

“These additional DefenCell barriers and additional sandbags expected in the coming days will help protect infrastructure that is critical to regional communities,” said Mr. Malinauskas.

On Thursday, the expected flow of the Murray River was highly likely to be 175 gigalitres per day in early December.

As precipitation is expected to rise rapidly in the coming weeks, this flow is likely to increase to at least 185 gigalitres per day, with the potential to reach a detrimental 220 gigalitres per day.

The South African state government is urging riverine communities to consider high flows and upcoming rainfall as a factor in the closure of roads and ferries, power supplies and other services in the area.

On Tuesday, the government announced a $451.6 million financial assistance package for flood-affected communities, with one-time personal grants of up to $400 for individuals or $1,000 for a family.

“We acted quickly to arrange disaster funding for those who are already dealing with additional water flowing down the river, as well as for those who may be affected in the coming weeks,” Mr. Malinauskas said.

State Police Commissioner Grant Stevens also declared the disaster a major emergency under the Emergency Management Act, and former Chief Inspector Alex Zimmermann was named recovery coordinator.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Sakach said authorities don’t want to alarm people unnecessarily, but residents need to be prepared for risks as they arise.

“People should continue to prepare themselves and their possessions as best they can with the time we have left. It is important that people remain vigilant and listen to the advice of the authorities,” Mr. Sakacs said.

“I encourage people to use the SES hotline and other government websites to stay up to date with the latest information and call triple 0 if they are in an emergency.”

Originally published as Barriers, sandbags arrive before heavy rains