Ten minutes was all it took for ferocious storm to cause endless devastation

2014-02-26 00:00

TEN minutes was all it took for suburbs, townships and farms on the south side of Pietermaritzburg to be devastated.

Yesterday, The Witness visited Imbali township and Oribi village, where debris from trees that were broken during the strong storm littered the roads and yards. Tree-felling contractors were hard at work removing trees that blocked the roads and those that had fallen in people’s yards.

The last time a storm of a similar magnitude struck the city was in January 2013, when similar cases were reported.

It was a frightening experience for most people who experienced the storm.

Lungile Masango, who lived at er 1707 Ndaba Road in Unit 3, Imbali, said, “I was on the street when it suddenly got dark and I rushed to my bedroom.”

She said just after 4 pm, the thunder began with lightning and heavy rain. “The next thing we saw was water flooding into the house and I realised that the roof covering the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom had been blown off,” she said.

Masango said in a couple of minutes it was over, so she gathered her neighbours together to help put a tarpaulin over the roof to prevent more rain from pouring in.

“During the storm we sat in complete darkness as the electricity was also off at the time. We still don’t have electricity because our meter box was soaking wet and we need Eskom to check it before we can switch it back on,” she said.

Masango said she was terrified at what would happen to them when it turned pitch dark during broad daylight.

She said they are now waiting for disaster management to help them.

Across the street, Masango’s neighbour Dolly Thusi’s tiles flew off, leaving her house ruined by the rain.

“My neighbour’s zinc roof flew into my yard. I was so scared because I had never experienced such a terrifying incident, but always see it on TV,” she said.

Thusi said she was alone in the house with her seven-year-old grandson. “My grandson was so happy when knee-deep water came into the house. He said, ‘It is nice granny, because we now have a pool in our house’,” she said.

There were men on the roof already replacing the tiles that had been damaged.

“We have had to buy some building materials so that we can have a proper home again,” she said.

Nthaby Gwamanda from Unit 13 said the 10-minute drive from Southgate Spar to the France area felt like an hour because of the scary hail storm. “Little did I know that they were just as affected at home at Unit 13. I came home to see that virtually everything was destroyed and we now have to buy completely new furniture,” she said.

Gwamanda said DVDs, printers, wardrobes and other electronic appliances were covered in mud.

“When we finally opened the main door it was like opening a flood gate,” she said.

Family members and friends at the Gwamanda household were mopping up as some helped to remove the debris from a brick wall that collapsed, narrowly missing the house but only damaging the back door.

Some were even using hosepipes to clean electronic equipment like DVD players, printers and washing machines, which were covered in mud. “It was a complete mess that I could not just leave covered with mud and I have to wash these appliances. I don’t know if they will ever work again, but I wTen minutes was all it took for ferocious storm to cause endless devastation

TEN minutes was all it took for suburbs, townships and farms on the south side of Pietermaritzburg to be devastated.

Yesterday, The Witness visited Imbali township and Oribi village, where debris from trees that were broken during the strong storm littered the roads and yards. Tree-felling contractors were hard at work removing trees that blocked the roads and those that had fallen in people’s yards.

The last time a storm of a similar magnitude struck the city was in January 2013, when similar cases were reported.

It was a frightening experience for most people who experienced the storm.

Lungile Masango, who lived at er 1707 Ndaba Road in Unit 3, Imbali, said, “I was on the street when it suddenly got dark and I rushed to my bedroom.”

She said just after 4 pm, the thunder began with lightning and heavy rain. “The next thing we saw was water flooding into the house and I realised that the roof covering the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom had been blown off,” she said.

Masango said in a couple of minutes it was over, so she gathered her neighbours together to help put a tarpaulin over the roof to prevent more rain from pouring in.

“During the storm we sat in complete darkness as the electricity was also off at the time. We still don’t have electricity because our meter box was soaking wet and we need Eskom to check it before we can switch it back on,” she said.

Masango said she was terrified at what would happen to them when it turned pitch dark during broad daylight.

She said they are now waiting for disaster management to help them.

Across the street, Masango’s neighbour Dolly Thusi’s tiles flew off, leaving her house ruined by the rain.

“My neighbour’s zinc roof flew into my yard. I was so scared because I had never experienced such a terrifying incident, but always see it on TV,” she said.

Thusi said she was alone in the house with her seven-year-old grandson. “My grandson was so happy when knee-deep water came into the house. He said, ‘It is nice granny, because we now have a pool in our house’,” she said.

There were men on the roof already replacing the tiles that had been damaged.

“We have had to buy some building materials so that we can have a proper home again,” she said.

Nthaby Gwamanda from Unit 13 said the 10-minute drive from Southgate Spar to the France area felt like an hour because of the scary hail storm. “Little did I know that they were just as affected at home at Unit 13. I came home to see that virtually everything was destroyed and we now have to buy completely new furniture,” she said.

Gwamanda said DVDs, printers, wardrobes and other electronic appliances were covered in mud.

“When we finally opened the main door it was like opening a flood gate,” she said.

Family members and friends at the Gwamanda household were mopping up as some helped to remove the debris from a brick wall that collapsed, narrowly missing the house but only damaging the back door.

Some were even using hosepipes to clean electronic equipment like DVD players, printers and washing machines, which were covered in mud. “It was a complete mess that I could not just leave covered with mud and I have to wash these appliances. I don’t know if they will ever work again, but I will open them to dry up,” said a man who did not want to be named.

Some roads in Imbali were still closed by fallen trees.

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