Floods leave trail of death and destruction

2011-01-08 18:17

The national toll of weather-related deaths has risen to 29 after a week of heavy rains, flooding and thunderstorms in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Flood warnings were issued from Wednesday in all four provinces, and dam levels rose dramatically, forcing the Department of Water Affairs to open a number of sluice gates.

Worst hit by flooding was KwaZulu-Natal, where 1 000 people in the ­Ladysmith area, the Drakensberg, the South Coast and parts of Durban were left homeless.

With flood alerts having been issued to communities living around the province’s three major dams, the government now wants to urgently ­relocate 200 families living in flood-ravaged Quarry Heights in Durban, as well as another 200 living near the Klip River in Ladysmith.

On Friday KwaZulu-Natal’s premier, Zweli Mkhize, ­local government MEC Nomusa Dube and disaster management officials visited several communities displaced by floods.

They met with municipal staff to plan the moving of families whose homes had been swept away in several parts of the province.

The team also visited the families of ­children drowned on Wednesday at Folweni, near Durban, and survivors of the lightning strike that wiped out an entire family near ­Eshowe in Zululand last Sunday.

Residents of Umgababa, near Amanzimtoti, narrowly escaped with their lives when ­several homes collapsed during heavy rain.

The death toll from flooding in the province rose to seven on Friday when two children, Sthembinkosi (4) and Amanda Mbili (6), drowned while playing in the Golokodo River in the Umbumbulu area.

In Eastern Cape, police said some 17 ­people, including six children, had died since December 21 in flooding and thunderstorms in the province. Among them were four ­people killed by lightning last weekend.

No deaths have been reported in Mpumalanga, but water levels in the Crocodile River near Nelspruit have risen fast.

Communities in Matsulu, KaNyamanzane and other ­areas in the Onderberg have been warned to stay away from the rising river.

In Gauteng, communities downstream from the Vaal Dam and the Bloemhof, Gariep and Vanderkloof dams in the Vaal-­Orange River catchment area were warned that river levels could rise dramatically while these dams overflowed.

Some major roads in Vereeniging have been flooded by the strong-flowing Vaal River.

Families living in low-lying areas have had to be evacuated and many holiday homes downstream from the Vaal Dam have been flooded.

On Friday the Vaal Dam bridge near ­Deneysville was full of people who went to watch the spectacular water show when the opening of 17 sluice gates created an outflow of 2 550 cubic metres a second.

It was the first time since 1996 that so many sluice gates had been opened.

Water affairs spokesperson Linda Page said that dams still posed a threat, ­especially if more rain fell today.

“Water levels in the Vaal Dam are at 109%, but we plan to close three more sluice gates this afternoon if there is no more rain.”

The level of the Bloemhof Dam has come down significantly to 89% full, while the Gariep and Vanderkloof dams are still at 118% and 111% respectively.

The Augrabies Waterfall in Northern Cape will be in full flow by next weekend and the lower Orange River might be flooding by then.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.