Legal technology company LexisNexis has launched a free online weather portal that provides information about severe weather events.
The Severe Weather Events Resource Centre was launched this week and aims to make legal information relating to severe weather incidents more readily available.
Topics such as the South African Social Security Agency Social Relief of Distress Grant for Disasters, set up as a response to April’s severe flooding in KwaZulu-Natal, have been included in the portal. The grant is a once-off government assistance plan for people affected by the floods to receive financial aid for basic needs.
According to the resource centre, the grant provides a R1 200 food voucher per family, a choice between a food voucher or cash payment to the value of R3 960 for families that have lost loved ones and money for school uniforms — R2 700 for girls and R2 500 for boys.
The resource centre also provides links and steps for people to apply for the relief grant, as well as information about organisations and channels for those seeking to donate to relief efforts.
LexisNexis chief executive Videsha Proothveerajh told the Mail & Guardian that the company aims to uphold the rule of law by providing legal insight and information on the portal about severe weather events.
“The catastrophic floods in KZN are the most recent — and most devastating — in a series of increasingly frequent severe weather events occurring in South Africa. With global warming presenting an added threat, staying informed with access to this sort of information is critical. The new portal is set up to share free resources and guidance needed when navigating such crises now and in the future,” said Proothveerajh.
Links to regulations such as the Disaster Management Act of 2002, which focuses on mitigating the severity of disasters and post-disaster recovery, have been included.
During his budget policy presentation to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Tuesday, cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka said the scale of the devastation caused by the floods was “difficult to comprehend”.
He said the death toll was 435, with 63 people still unaccounted for, and the number of lives “severely disrupted” is 40 000.
The floods had destroyed 4 983 homes, with 8 310 partially destroyed.
Even though assessments were still on going, R25-billion had been incurred in damages to private and public infrastructure.
LexisNexis’s severe weather centre is the third platform to be launched by the company in the past few years. It follows the gender-based violence resource centre and the Covid-19 resource centre, which issues updates on the pandemic.
Proothveerajh said the severe weather portal was a work in progress.
“Our main aim is to help cement and uphold the rule of law in South Africa. The creation of this free platform and the sharing of this kind of practical and useful content is yet another way that LexisNexis aims to stay true to this goal,” she said.