Downpour kills eight
At least eight people were reported dead, about 700 houses had been destroyed and thousands had been left displaced in KwaZulu-Natal, following Sunday’s heavy downpour, the eThekwini Disaster Management Unit said today.
According to the SA Weather Bureau, 62.6mm of rain fell last night in Durban, which had already recorded 209.6mm for November, almost double its average.
The acting head of the eThekwini Emergency Control and Disaster Management Unit, Vincent Ngubane, said deaths had been recorded at Umlazi, Newlands East and Chatsworth.
The official death toll is eight, but the numbers could rise as emergency operations begin.
In E-Section, Umlazi, Qodeni Ximba, 17, was crushed to death after a landslide caused a lounge wall to collapse on her at 11pm. She had been sleeping on the floor next to the wall. In H-Section, Lindiwe Zulu, 37, also died after a wall collapsed on her.
Isaac Tau Zobane, 45, died in Quarry Heights Road, Newlands East when a sandbank collapsed on to his shack.
In Lamontville at least six RDP houses collapsed.
Ngubane said they had also received reports of flooding at Umkomaas, Isipingo, eDumbe (Paulpietersburg), Eshowe, Nkandla, Gingindlovu, the metro police satellite station in Albert Park and several informal settlements in the city.
He said the true extent of the damage would only be known later today when the disaster management teams submitted their reports to the municipality.
KZN Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesman, Lennox Mabaso, said MECs Nomusa Dube (Co-operative Governance), Weziwe Thusi (Social Development) and Ravi Pillay (Human Settlements) were expected to visit the affected families today.
He said at least 700 homes had been damaged or destroyed. A final assessment would be conducted by the department to determine what aid would be offered to families and which areas would be declared disaster zones. He said it was believed Umlazi, Clermont and Lamontville had suffered the most damage.
“Affluent areas such as Umhlanga were also affected by flooding. Even the house of the provincial head of disaster management, Mthokozisi Duze, was flooded.”
KZN-based shack dwellers’ movement, Abahlali Basemjondolo, said at least 300 residents at various informal settlements across the province had lost their belongings as a result of the flooding.
Several people were rescued in separate incidents from the flood waters in Randles Road, Durban last night. Netcare 911 spokesman, Chris Botha, said paramedics, police and search and rescue teams were called to four houses that were flooded to waist depth by the heavy rains.
“Rescue personnel assisted an elderly lady and a one-year-old toddler to safety. Both were treated for the cold and the elderly patient had to be treated for an asthma attack. They were later handed over into the care of their families because they refused hospital treatment,” he said.
Also, a man was rescued in the severe floods that occurred in the Amanzimtoti area.
“Reports indicate that the man was driving along Long Acres Drive in Doonheights. He tried to drive through a puddle when his vehicle disappeared under the water,” Botha said.
A local resident grabbed a surfboard and swam to the vehicle.
“The driver was pulled from the window of the driver’s side. Rescue personnel arrived at the scene and performed a search to ensure that no other people were trapped in the water. After the rain stopped, it took about 40 minutes for the water to subside before the road was re-opened,” Botha said.
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, said no major road accidents were reported last night.
Areas on the south coast were also said to be severely affected. Nomusa Mqwebu the mayor of Hibiscus coast said councillors had been sent out to do an audit of all the damage that had been caused by the torrential rains.
An eThekwini city official who did not want to be named as he is prohibited from talking to the media, said disaster management teams had been out all night assessing the damage.
He said that some of the damage caused was due to sand subsiding or landslides. These were because “of the steady soaks in the past week which meant that the ground was wet and when it got pounded by the heavy rains, it subsided”.
He said that some of the storm water drains had failed to cope with the deluge leading to localised flooding in some areas.
There was a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms for Durban this afternoon, said Durban weather forecaster, Mduduzi Mthembu.
Tomorrow, Mthembu said, the sky would clear in the morning.
On Wednesday, areas along the south coast would experience a cold front and rains.
Due to the cold front, most of KZN will have wet weather on Thursday, with thunderstorms in the afternoon. There is an 80 percent chance of rain at the weekend.