Storm damage widespread

2010-04-06 00:00

MOPPING up operations got under way in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands yesterday morning after scores of houses were destroyed and several residents were injured in violent storms with strong winds and heavy rains that struck on Sunday evening.

Many people were left homeless and some were hospitalised across a band of municipal areas, including Msunduzi.

Relief teams were deployed yesterday in all affected areas, the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department said in a statement

Affected areas include Bulwer, Kwelibomvana, Nongaqu, Deepdale, Bethlehem, Chibini, eLuboru, Bhizi, Nauqa, Bhiza, Phafane, eMqulele and Nkumba, all under Ingwe Local Municipality.

The department said at least 50 houses were damaged and 21 people injured in Ingwe alone.

Barbra Kunene, a resident in the Bulwer area, said about 20 people were hospitalised. “An ambulance had to return three times to fetch the injured,” she told The Witness.

Kunene said a significant number of livestock, including cattle, goats and chickens, died, mealie fields were destroyed and a car that tried to cross the flooded Mbokodo bridge was swept into the Umkomaas River. However, no one could say if anyone was killed, and police said they had no report of a car being washed away.

In uMshwathi municipal district, at least 30 houses were damaged in the kwa­Swayimane area and four people were injured, the department said.

At least two wards were affected in the Ndwedwe Municipality.

“Teams are still doing assessments and providing first-line support in the form of food, blankets and all important immediate necessities,” the department said.

“uKhahlamba Municipality in Bergville has also logged incidents of people affected, and support is being rendered.”

In Msunduzi district, about 70 houses were damaged. “No one was hurt or died,” said Patrick Jaca, the Machibisa councillor.

Jaca said the municipality will donate mattresses, blankets and tents to affected families.

“Luck was on our side because we were not in bed yet when it happened,” said Dibusene Lesia, a Machibisa resident whose double-storey house’s roof was partly blown away. “Otherwise lives could have been lost.”

When The Witness visited the area yesterday, residents were working hard to mend their homes and trying to dry out their sodden possessions. Some sat in groups discussing the previous night’s events.

John Gutridge of the Msunduzi disaster management division said they were assessing damage around the Machibisa, Ashdown, kwaPata, Dambuza and Vulindlela areas.

So far, Gutridge said, he had ascertained that about 70 houses were damaged, but no injuries occurred. “We are giving blankets, mattresses and tents to those who need them,” he told The Witness.

Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube encouraged municipalities to approach the provincial disaster management centre for additional capacity, including first-line support should the need arise, spokesman Lennox Mabaso said.

“The MEC also expresses her sympathy with the victims of the latest incidents and assures them that government will do everything possible to support and assist in ensuring that their lives are speedily restored to normalcy.”

Lincoln Meade resident Christopher Merrett said Sunday’s storm produced an intense fall of small hail and 49 mm of rain.

Elsewhere in the city, 60,8 mm of rain was measured.


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