Hail like never before

2014-10-17 00:00

ONE man was missing and several home- and business owners across Howick, Hilton, Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas were counting the cost of damages wrought by yesterday’s storm.

Howick was struck the hardest. With hail carpeting parts of the town, it appeared that there had been a snowfall. The reception area of the Howick Falls Hotel filled with water after gutters choked with heavy hail stones. At the Fairway’s BP garage, the computer that controls the petrol pumps was knocked out for over an hour after rain poured down from the ceilings.

Angelo Elestheriou, owner of the Bargain Store, said the wind had pushed away his roof tiles and “pools of water gushed on the floors of the building”.

“Everything in my shop is damaged,” he said.

Grant Seaward, manager at Greendale Spar, said that it was an “epic storm”.

“I have never seen that sort of hail before. Our roofs and gutters are damaged and lots of cars were damaged too,” Seaward said.

Thando Mgaga, of the uMngeni Municipality, reported that they were aware of power outages in the area and the main roads into the town being flooded with water and mud.

Neville Mayor, a Howick resident who was out of town at the time, said a massive tree had fallen over his home.

In Hilton, the Quarry Centre parking lot was submerged in water and hail, leaving motorists stranded in their cars for up to 25 minutes.

In Pietermaritzburg, tragedy struck as a man was washed away by a flash flood in the stream that runs past the quarry off Old Greytown Road. The stream, which is normally ankle-deep, turned into a raging river that swept away a man from the informal settlement in the area.

Officials began searching for the man at about 4 pm yesterday — there was no word of whether he had been found at the time of going to press.

Elsewhere in the city, roads flooded over water covering almost half the tyres on some cars. Low-level bridges were closed as water swept over them, sweeping off anything in its path.

Among other accidents, there was a four-car pile-up in Mpophomeni during the deluge. The Road Traffic Inspectorate’s Zinhle Mngomezulu urged motorists to maintain safe following distances and be wary on the roads in wet weather, especially when it comes to speed.

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