HARARE, — The morning rush was subdued in the city Friday morning as traffic thinned due to the closure of schools as Zimbabwe braced itself for Tropical Storm Freddy, which is anticipated to hit six of the country’s 10 provinces.
The fringes of the tropical storm reached the southeastern districts of Chipinge and Chimanimani in Manicaland Province of eastern Zimbabwe Thursday, with the storm expected to cover several parts of the country Friday.
Authorities have adopted a safety-first approach to ensure that in the event of heavy rains and strong winds affecting the provinces, school children will not be caught out.
They therefore decided that schools in Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Harare Metropolitan, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and Matabeleland South should close for the day.
The specter of Cyclone Idai, which hit the country in 2019 and left more than 340 people dead and many others missing, continues to haunt Manicaland Province, which continues to bear the brunt of cyclones due to its proximity to the Indian Ocean.
The province, which again is expected to be the epicenter of Tropical Storm Freddy, has put in place elaborate safety measures to safeguard lives and property, state news agency New Ziana said Friday.
Officials said safety measures had been drawn and set up, including forming a number of disaster response teams and evacuation centers where people would be transferred to if threatened.
In Chipinge District, which suffered the most when Cyclone Idai struck, officials said several disaster response teams were in place and fully equipped.
“We have activated the district civil protection committee and we have established a command center at the district development coordinator’s boardroom,” the district’s development coordinator, William Mashava, said.
Mashava said the district had been given an idea of what to expect after strong winds hit much of the region last week.
“The district experienced very strong winds on Tuesday, blowing off a number of rooftops and destroying maize crops in Ward 10. Livestock was also lost in the process, but thankfully no human life was affected.
“This, however, came as a wake-up call to the coming storm that is expected to affect the country,” he said.
In the provincial capital, Mutare, city authorities have called on residents to be on high alert and take precautionary measures to ensure safety. In a notice to the public, they urged residents to keep checking weather updates.