Storm damage: Trees, walls, roofing all blown down

2008-11-13 00:00

Residents and businesses in Cleland, Mkondeni and Ashburton were clearing their yards, contacting their insurance companies and calculating the costs of damages yesterday morning as mopping-up operations began.

Between 9.15 pm and 9.45 pm the unusually fierce storm left a path of destruction through city suburbs. Roofs blew off, concrete walls crumbled and huge trees crashed onto parked vehicles and power lines.

Cleland was one of the areas hardest hit . Trees and electric power lines blocked the road in Jasmine Close. Six electricity poles broke and fell on to the road after a huge palm tree fell on the line.

Yesterday morning the police cordoned off the area while Msunduzi municipal electricity personnel repaired the damage. Roof tiles were blown off several houses on Jasmine Close, Fir Tree and Abelia roads. In Petrea Road a roof flew from house number 25 and landed at number 29.

Two vehicles were crushed by a tree at Peter Wartmann’s house at 38 Jasmine Close. “I heard continuous rumbling thunder and then I looked through the window … All I could see were spinning sheets of rain. After that there was a strong wind and then it was quiet.

“When the storm had calmed down we [Wartmann family] came outside and there were sparks on the electricity lines followed by a huge orange flash travelling towards the sub-station, and then there was darkness,” said Wartmann’s son Shane.

Several other houses near Wartmann’s house suffered damage to roofs and concrete walls.

Lorraine Holder (66) of number 24 said she was alone when the storm broke.

“There was huge thunder, like there was a war going on. The tree in my yard was split in the middle and it fell onto the roof, breaking the tiles as well.”

In Abelia Road, Peter Lowe’s Isuzu bakkie was crushed by the huge tree in the yard. Lowe’s 70 000-litre pool was blown open and a concrete wall crumbled.

In the Mkondeni industrial area, the Slick Carwash was ravaged by the wind. Owner Deon Bhugwanidin said five vehicles parked on the premises were also damaged.

“Sheets of roof metal were flying around from another business and they fell on top of the vehicles.”

At Capital Truck Centre a vehicle parked outside was damaged by bricks falling from the building. At BSI Steel the roof flew from the building and landed on the Steel Structures property across the road. At Africa Truck and Plant Sales the roof was also blown away.

In the Edendale area a tree fell on top of a classroom and damaged the roof at the Edendale Islamic school.

In Ashburton several houses — some of them brand new — lost their roofs, or parts fo them, concrete walls and fences were blown down and one smallholder lost greenhouses and a tomato crop worth about R300 000.

Gonnie Bromhead and his wife, Holley, who own a house and stables near the Kwik Spar, were mopping up yesterday after the corrugated iron roof of their recently renovated home was blown off, exposing the main bedroom to the elements.

However, the couple still had time to think of the anguish suffered by their immediate neighbour whose brand-new house also lost its roof. The home was still unoccupied.

At least one insurance assessor was already at the scene early yesterday assessing the damage to the home of Schalk Marais, who lost part of his tomato crop and greenhouses in the storm.

Marais said he has invested all his capital and a great deal of energy in his business.

He said he realised his house was damaged when he felt a draught and went to check the windows.

He discovered that a section of the roof tiles had blown off. But he said his problems were not as great as those of some of his workers who live in the area and who reported that their houses had been flattened.

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