‘Unit always on alert’

2019-11-20 06:02

THE Msunduzi Municipality insists that their disaster management unit is always alert and ready to assist, following complaints that they were

ill-equipped to help those who were left destitute after their homes were destroyed by flooding at the weekend.

Councillor Rooksana Ahmed told The Witness that several residents in Nhlalakahle, an informal settlement in her ward, were affected by the heavy rains this weekend.

She said she had called the manager for disaster management who said she was on leave. She said she was told that only one person was on duty, but was attending to residents elsewhere.

Ahmed, councillor Thandiwe Madondo and residents in their wards had told The Witness that the City’s disaster management unit had no tents, blankets or food vouchers to offer the displaced families.

Sizakele Nkothe, whose family home was totally destroyed by the heavy downpour on Sunday night, said the disaster management employees visited on Monday

morning and gave them six mattresses and blankets to use as they were currently staying at a community hall while looking for a place to rent in the area.

Madondo told The Witness that residents in her ward were only given plastic sheeting by disaster management.

Msunduzi Municipality’s spokesperson Thobeka

Mafumbatha said their disaster management unit has two staff on standby duty for after-hours calls.

She said disaster management is a unit on its own and forms part of the public safety business unit together with fire, rescue, traffic services and security services.

All the units had numerous callouts because of the heavy rains, she said, adding that in the event of a major incident, other staff are called as well as district and provincial teams.

Mafumbatha admitted to not having food supplies and tents to give to displaced families and said they worked with NPOs such as Gift of the Givers to provide things that they did not have.

She also explained that the displaced Nhlalakahle families were contacted after their homes were destroyed but had chosen to stay in the area because they feared that their belongings would be stolen.

“Disaster management is always on alert.

We receive updates from the weather services daily and we have a crisis response protocol that ensures that all business units within council are activated if the need arises,” said Mafumbatha.

She said the fire services are their first responders and are activated by contacting the emergency call centre (ECC) at 080 003 3911 or 033 845 5911.

News24 reported that parts of Kwa­Zulu-Natal were to expect more severe thunderstorms that could lead to flooding according to the South African Weather Service.

“Later this week, we are also expecting more rainfall and flooding in parts of the province.

We are looking at Thursday and Friday,” forecaster Mbavhi Maliage told News24.

The eThekwini Municipality said two people had died when their house collapsed.

Disaster management teams in the province have been on high alert since Sunday.

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