2014-03-16 14:00

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Limpopo Premier StanMathabatha has asked the national government for help after two weeks of rain left large parts of the province submerged.

Officials hope Lephalale at least will be declared a disaster area, a move which would free up funding and support from national government.

Residents are dreading more rain and, in some areas, watching for hippos and crocodiles they fear may have ­entered residential areas after a week of flooding.

A brief lull in the rain has allowed residents in Lephalale and Bela-Bela to start mopping up. But the SA Weather ­Service has predicted a 60% chance of rain tomorrow, which may hamper efforts.

More than 1?300 people have been rescued from flooded homes in Lephalale, Baviaanshoek, Beska, Witpoort and the Thabo Mbeki settlement. These areas are close to the Mogol River, which burst its banks earlier this week.

Staff of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Lephalale have been swimming up to a ­kilometre at a time to reach some smallholdings. The SPCA’s Mariaan Wentzel said they were loading animals on to an old boat to get them to safety.

“We found some dogs on floating couches in flooded houses and some trapped in garages. Lots of farmers lost almost everything in these floods,” Wentzel said.

“One farmer, who was rescued on Thursday, came out only with a little suitcase. He saw his cattle, sheep and chickens drown.”

Wentzel said there were fears crocodiles from the Mogol River could be out and swimming freely in water covering flooded areas.

“There are lots of crocodiles and hippos in rivers around Baviaanshoek and I understand one crocodile was caught and many others could still be out there,” she said.

Neighbours have come to each other’s aid: in ­Baviaanshoek, Jenny Gouws is running a crisis centre from her home, which is on higher ground.

Gouws said the community had been sending in food ­supplies and fuel for generators – most areas are without electricity – and these supplies were being sorted into ­parcels and sent out by boat to homes in the area.

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