Cleaning up and counting the cost

2009-01-05 00:00

Following this weekend’s severe storm, residents all over the city are scrambling to get their lives back on track — with or without the municipality’s help.

“Although I’m homeless, I’m not exactly on the street,” said Hilton resident Richard Bleeker optimistically.

Bleeker, who is currently staying with a friend, is looking for a new place to stay after the roof of his wooden house was blown away by Saturday’s strong wind.

“No one was home at the time … I was in Pretoria and I got a call from the guy that I’d been renting the place with. He said he got a call from the neighbour saying the roof had blown off,” he said.

The computer programmer said he didn’t believe him and called the neighbour, who confirmed the incident. “He said the roof was lying on the street … My brother, who was in the area at the time went over to salvage what he could. It took about 20 of them to move the roof, which had actually landed on the gate, before they could enter.

“When I saw the place, it was a lot worse than I expected. It looked like hurricane Katrina … You could see the stars from the kitchen,” he added.

He was surprised to find that “not much” inside was damaged by the storm — especially since the ceiling boards had collapsed.

Mohamed Ally, a Northdale resident, said that after several failed attempts to get the municipality to cut off the electricity at his home after the storm ravaged “about 90%” of the building, he called out a private electrician to do the job.

“It was hazardous and needed to be done,” he said. “We’re so busy trying to salvage what we can. We don’t know whether we’re coming or going … Clothing is missing, it must have been blown away during the night. All the built-in cupboards are swelling because of the water. But what can we do?”

Ally, whose roof collapsed during the storm, said his family are staying at his sister’s house until they make other living arrangements.

When contacted yesterday, Msunduzi municipal officials were in and out of meetings strategising about how to clean up and restore services.

While some are still waiting for municipal workers to attend to their damaged property, others have decided to take matters into their own hands.

A Winterskloof resident, Leon Combrinck, went out and bought a generator on Sunday after electricity had been out in the area since Saturday night. Combrinck, who produces cheese from home to sell, said: “After the storm we were all left without electricity in Winterskloof, and without electricity all of our cheese would go off. So I went to Makro and bought a generator.”

Combrinck said they tried calling the municipality but could never get through.

“When we did get through this morning they said they would send a team through, but we still don’t have electricity … We could wait for four days without electricity. This is the only income for the household. If the cheese goes off, not only do we lose the money that it cost to produce it, but also the time it took to make it.”

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