On 22 February 2023, a Facebook page called Zambia Today and various social media platforms and WhatsApp groups carried reports that Cyclone Freddy was likely to hit Zambia between 23rd and 28th February 2023. Some of the reports quoted authorities like the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), as well as the United Nations in Zambia. The DMMU is mandated by law to warn communities at risk of impending hazards for them to take early action to avert, minimize loss to human lives, damage to property, livelihoods and the environment. The UN works with government on various developmental efforts, including disaster mitigation.
iVerify has determined as true reports that Cyclone Freddy may affect Zambia. The Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) in the Office of the Vice President issued a statement to alert and warn the public about Cyclone Freddy and the impending risks and the need to take early action to avert or minimize loss to human lives as well as damage to property, livelihoods and the environment.
The statement followed an alert from the Zambia Meteorological Department in the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment which has been monitoring Cyclone Freddy likely to indirectly affect Zambia as it makes a landfall in Mozambique.
In a press statement on the prevailing weather conditions in the country, the Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu, MP stated that tropical Cyclone Freddy was expected to make landfall over Madagascar by Tuesday, 21st February in the evening and on coastal Mozambique by Friday morning. The statement added that the cyclone may indirectly induce light to moderate rainfall over parts of Northwestern, Copperbelt, Central, Lusaka, Eastern and Southern Provinces from 22nd to 28th February 2023.
And Dr. Gabriel Pollen, the DMMU National Coordinator, has advised members of the public residing in the aforementioned places to:
1. Avoid crossing flooded bridges or crossing points with fast moving water, and instead wait until the surface of the road or bridge is visible.
2. Ensure that gutters and drains are clear of waste such as plastics, toys, outdoor furniture and garbage to enhance flow of storm water.
3. Avoid swimming in water that has accumulated as a result of flooding as it is contaminated and could pose a risk of drowning.
4. Consider relocating to the upper land from flood prone low laying areas.
5. Drive slowly with lights on when it is raining.
6. Have some sandbags or flood boards or plastic covers prepared to block doorways.
7. Move valuable belongings to safety, and
8. Keep a list of useful contact numbers such as local councils and emergency services.
The DMMU has committed to continue to monitor the evolution of the storm and provide early warning to the public for early action. The department has also advised the public to report flooding or landslides to the DMMU by calling toll free line 909.