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.”

Join the conversation! 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. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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 network.


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.