City storm troopers

2015-02-10 00:00

THE city is still recovering after Friday’s “super-cell storm” that ravaged homes, vehicles and businesses, leaving residents scrambling for a place in the long queues for repairs.

The massive hailstones and near gale-force winds have been described by experts as an “exceptional case” that closely resembled the attributes of a super-cell storm.

According to South African Weather Service forecaster Thandiwe Gumede, while heat-induced thunderstorms are a common phenomenon in summer, the strong updrafts and wind “sheer” on Friday were not ordinary.

“We were anticipating thunderstorms on Friday because the chances were there, but a warning was only issued towards the afternoon when we saw the storm front on the radar,” she said.

“A super-cell storm of this nature can only be identified once it occurs.”

Repair shops and insurance firms throughout the city have been working in overdrive since Friday afternoon, trying to cope with the influx of distressed clients.

Reichfin manager Garth Reich said they have had more than 60 insurance claims thus far for residential buildings, commercial buildings and cars. According to Reich, some of their claims have been estimated at over R100 000.

“We worked Saturday, Sunday and came earlier to the office today,” he said yesterday.

One of the partners at PG Glass, Logan Govindaraj, said they have been working “non-stop” since Friday night, almost 24 hours per day. They have had more than 100 repair jobs since the storm and have recruited additional technical and sales teams from Durban.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka ­Mafumbatha said she has been inundated with calls from ward councillors all over the city, reporting damage to houses and informal settlements, and electricity outages.

“A lot of areas have been damaged and we sympathise with those who have had any loss or damage to property,” she said.

Democratic Alliance ward 31 councillor Rooksana Ahmed said she accompanied a ­disaster management team to the Nhlalakahle settlement over the weekend after almost 400 informal homes were destroyed.

“Disaster management was to do a ­door-to-door survey to establish a list of ­people who were affected,” Ahmed added.

But it was not only property that was affected. Many of Pietermaritzburg’s furry friends also suffered the brunt of the storm.

According to local vets, many wild birds have been brought in after the storm.

Hayfields Veterinary Hospital nurse Leslie Shooter said they had no reports of domestic animals injured in the storm.

“It was mostly wild birds like pigeons that were brought in,” she said.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

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