Drown the coast

2019-04-24 13:19
Massive rocks block Shongweni Road following the rain on Monday night and Tuesday. Fortunately the rocks did not fall on any cars and no one was injured.

Massive rocks block Shongweni Road following the rain on Monday night and Tuesday. Fortunately the rocks did not fall on any cars and no one was injured.

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The KZN coast was devastated by storms which killed at least 32 people, dumped up to 300mm of rain in places, flooded swathes of Durban and smaller towns, and cut off roads and highways.

The storms followed several days of heavy rain along the eastern seaboard down to the Eastern Cape, leading last Thursday to the death of 13 people when the walls of their church collapsed during an Easter church service near Richards Bay.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) on Tuesday reported having received more than 2 000 distress calls since Sunday night as pouring rain caused houses to collapse. At least 10 children were still missing last night.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was called in to evacuate hundreds of people in the Port St Johns area, Eastern Cape. Emergency staff throughout the province remain on high alert amid warnings of more rain and gales, and additional disaster management staff were sent from Msunduzi and the iLembe District to Durban.

The worst-affected areas in eThekwini were Chatsworth, Pinetown and Mariannhill.

Massive rocks block Shongweni Road following the rain on Monday night and Tuesday. Fortunately the rocks did not fall on any cars and no one was injured. 
Massive rocks block Shongweni Road following the rain on Monday night and Tuesday. Fortunately the rocks did not fall on any cars and no one was injured.

The Midlands, however, came off lightly, with no serious reports in spite of some heavy rain.

Witness photo­grapher Ian Carbutt, who was on holiday in the Eastern Cape, said it was “hectic”.

“It was pouring. I have never experienced anything like that in my life and I have been visiting Transkei since I was a kid. It was a wall of water and the rivers were flooded where we were.

“I spent the whole night worrying that the bank was going to collapse because the area is enclosed by three rivers.”

Carbutt said he had to make a call to one of the villagers to assist in getting his car out to higher ground.

“Everyone was trapped. There were two bridges I had to cross and there was no way of getting out,” he said.

Paramedic service Rescue Care said it worked for two hours to extract eight bodies in a mudslide in the Westcliff area, south of Durban.

Two children were among seven people who died when a home collapsed in the Queensburgh area.

In Overport, a 70-year-old woman was pinned under rubble for hours when her home collapsed. Her son, in another room, died, Rescue Care said.

Traffic was seriously disrupted along the entire coast. There were reports on social media of mudslides and large rocks collapsing onto roads in Shongweni, and of severe flooding on major roads in Durban, including parts of the M7 and N2, and in the Durban CBD.

Several Durban schools closed, and both the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Durban University of Techno­logy suspended their academic programmes at Durban campuses.

The Umlaas Road was covered in mud and debris from the rains on Monday night and Tuesday. (Photo: Martin Millar) 

The South African Weather Service (Saws) on Tuesday afternoon said Durban had received about 155 mm of rain since Saturday, with the SAWS station in Paddock, near Margate, registering about 234 mm.

Saws forecaster Wisani Maluleke said rain is likely to continue on Wednesday. Pietermaritzburg­ had registered 70,9mm of rain.

He said there was a 60% chance of showers today, turning into thundershowers tonight. “By Thursday, there is only a 30% chance of rain. By Friday only the north-eastern areas of KZN, like the Umkhanyakude region, are expected to get rain.”

Maluleke said the weather is expected to clear by the weekend.

Meanwhile, farmers across uMgu­ngundlovu said the good rainfall should assist their water reserves going into winter. Dairy farmers and stock farmers reported receiving rainfall of more than 50 mm, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union’s Bobby Hoole said.

The rains have boosted levels of some dams in Umgeni Water’s service area.

According to Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder, the highest rainfall in the Umgeni system occurred at Inanda Dam, which received 88 mm.

The second highest amount — 45,5 mm — fell at Nagle Dam while Midmar Dam received 37 mm. Also in the Mgeni System, Mearns Dam in Mooi River received 21 mm while at Spring Grove Dam in Rosetta, 20 mm was recorded on Monday. The smallest amount — 12,8 mm — fell at Albert Falls Dam.

While some weekend rainfall occurred in catchments and it has already begun making its way into raw water storage infrastructure, Harichunder said a significant amount fell in urban areas which means it will ultimately end up in storm water drains. — Witness Reporter.

The dam levels in the Mgeni System are:

Mearns: 113%

Spring Grove: 79%

Midmar: 101%

Albert Falls: 43%

Nagle: 96%

Inanda: 71%

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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