Storm wreaks havoc in Toti

2017-09-27 06:01
Trees, branches, roof sheeting and facias were being dislodged in Beach Road, Rosslyn Road, Main Road, Doonside and Illovo Beach, such as this structure in Illovo Beach.PhotoS: supplied

Trees, branches, roof sheeting and facias were being dislodged in Beach Road, Rosslyn Road, Main Road, Doonside and Illovo Beach, such as this structure in Illovo Beach.PhotoS: supplied

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TROPICAL cyclone? Hurricane? Tropical storm? The debate continues on what actually passed along the KwaZulu-Natal coast wreaking havoc from Port Edward to Richards Bay on Saturday­ afternoon.

In comparison the larger Amanzimtoti area came off relatively light.

“A Sunday ward inspection revealed several trees either uprooted or branches broken off and completely or partially obscuring road surfaces. When these incidents occur after hours, it must be reported to the Emergency Services Centre on 031 361 0000. Depending on availability, either­ a fire department crew or contractor would be dispatched to remove the obstacle,” said Councillor André Beetge.

“Residents, however, have to take into consideration that the call centre would have to prioritise resources in accordance with the urgency, as a tree or branch that poses no direct threat other than necessitating a detour, will inevitably play second fiddle to trees or branches threatening electricity supply or life and property.

“At one stage the Emergency Services Centre lines were so congested the Ethekwini Heart Hospital couldn’t get through to report their emergency. A request on a WhatsApp group resulted in direct communication with an official on duty using his private phone and a team was dispatched to resolve the the situation,” said Beetge.

He said trees, branches, roof sheeting and facias were dislodged at locations in Beach Road, Rosslyn Road, Main Road, Doonside and Illovo Beach. This, however, paled in comparison to power outages not only in Amanzimototi, but the entire city when, for example, areas like Phoenix and Avoca were left in darkness when a 132kva supply was compromised.

“The wind also compromised and rendered several lines of the Disaster Management Centre that hosts the Electricity Call Centre 080 131 3111 down. The remaining lines were in turn so congested that people had to either wait, call back or the system crashed all together.

“In normal circumstances, when there is not a crisis effecting virtually the entire city, the municipality’s turn-around time on electrical faults would be 24 hours, from time of report. When a disaster, however, occurs with such far reaching effects, and over a weekend, the turn-around time increases tremendously to 24 hours plus, from time of report, as attention is prioritised for live connections, threat to life and property, mainline supply to suburbs where several hundred households are effected and in line with order of report,” said Beetge.

“Technicians cannot take complaints from residents on the street as they are compelled to attend in line with report or prioritisation by the call centre.

"A break in the electricity supply is although a great inconvenience, not necessarily a life-threatening situation with exception to where people are reliant on same for medical or other purposes. Likewise many have taken precaution to securing or installing generators for such occurrences. Deep freezes and fridges should be kept closed during a power failure to ensure minimum exposure and possibility of defrost."

The councillor said following discussions with the city manager, acting head of electricity and the deputy mayor, who chairs the emergency services committee on Sunday, collated information of residents who couldn’t get through to the call centre that was in turn passed on to teams of officials who were not on duty, but who were called in to assist.

“Attention continued throughout the night into Monday when all available personnel were deployed to attending the backlog, as opposed to normal maintenance duties. Come Tuesday morning everybody on our list had been confirmed connected during the night. We thank residents who, despite being inconvenienced, remained calm and understanding of the situation. Further praise should go to officials who reported for duty on Sunday into Monday morning and who were back a few hours later to continue in assisting reconnection,” added Beetge.

Tree and branch removal continued on Monday into Tuesday morning.

- Supplied.



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