Floods rip through the city

2018-04-06 16:15
Londeka Zondi of Nhlazatshe (near Edendale) stands next to her home, completely ravaged by flash flooding during Wednesday night’s storm. Zondi is among hundreds of people from around Pietermaritzburg who suffered the devastating effects of the storm.

Londeka Zondi of Nhlazatshe (near Edendale) stands next to her home, completely ravaged by flash flooding during Wednesday night’s storm. Zondi is among hundreds of people from around Pietermaritzburg who suffered the devastating effects of the storm. (Ian Carbutt)

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Msunduzi's disaster management team spent Thursday assessing the full scale of the massive devastation wrought by the storm that engulfed areas in flash floods caused by the heavy rain.

On Thursday, despondent residents in affected areas recounted their terror and despair as flood water from Wednesday night’s storm washed away people’s homes and destroyed personal belongings in a matter of hours.

Hundreds of houses in the Pietermaritzburg area were damaged, leaving scores without a place to sleep.

In some areas, houses were washed away completely. In other areas, rescue teams were deployed to evacuate people from their homes, to save them from being swept away by flooded rivers.

Pietermaritzburg’s police search-and-rescue team was also deployed and worked into the early hours of Thursday morning.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the areas most affected by the storm were Dambuza, Nhlazatshe, France, Peace Valley, Asburton, Lynnfield Park and KwaMnyanu.

The Witness drove through Edendale up into Nhlazatshe on Thursday to look at some of the damage.

People living along Edendale Road could be seen outside with their mops and brooms, trying to clean the mess left behind by the storm.

In Nhlazatshe, however, the damage was devastating.

Residents try to dry their household appliances and furniture following a flash flood that hit the area on Wednesday night.

Resident Sihle Zondi said the storm started at around 6 pm. “The water came down the hill, straight through our houses. It went through my house.

“Some houses have collapsed completely. They just disappeared overnight,” he said, pointing out the pieces of land where people’s homes used to be.

The floor of Zondi’s home was caked in mud from the flash flood, and one of the walls of his home had started to crumble away. “I don’t know where I will sleep tonight,” he said.

Sihle Zondi inspects his mud-caked floor after Wednesday night’s heavy rains and flash floods.

Another resident, Zamokuhle Zibula, said she could not sleep in her house last night and had to take refuge in a neighbour’s home.

“We don’t know what to do,” she said. “We do not have the money to start over and rebuild.”

Zibula has lived in her home for the past 20 years, and although she had experienced storms before, she said “this is the first time the damage has been so bad”.

Phindile Zondo, another Nhlazatshe resident, said she prayed for her and her family’s safety the whole night.

“We were so scared. We did not sleep at all. There was so much water coming into the house,” said Zondo.

“I have heard it will rain again tonight [Thursday], if it does, our houses will be finished, they will be gone and there is nothing we can do so we just have to wait for the rain.”

Pietermaritzburg did experience another heavy downpour on Thursday night. There was no word on possible further damage by the time of going to print.

Ward councillor Sipho Madonda said between 50 and 60 households damaged by the storm in his ward alone.

“It is very bad,” said Madonda.

“The water came from down the mountain through the houses. A few of them have collapsed.”

He said the municipality would assess the damage via Msunduzi’s disaster management team and assist those who need help. “This is not something that we can sort out today because there are so many damaged houses. Luckily there were no injuries,” he said.

Sibongile Mncwango, ward councillor for the France area, said the flooding was particularly bad there as it had caused several sewage pipes to overflow.

She said people’s homes had filled up with the flood water and the sewage.

“I think the whole ward is damaged. I could not sleep last night because people were calling me, crying, telling me their homes had flooded ...” she said.

In the Peacevalley area, people had to be evacuated as the little stream near their homes turned into a raging torrent.

In Nxamalala, just outside Sweetwaters, a family of five had to be rescued from their flooded house.

Lindiwe Mathenjwa stands with her daughter, Owami, inside her home devastated by Wednesday night’s flash flood outside Edendale

Mafumbatha said on Thursday the emergency control centre received three calls from officials, while Mayor Themba Njilo and various ward councillors contacted the disaster management team for assistance.

“The disaster management team and the fire and emergency services tried their level best to assist from about 7.30 pm until almost midnight,” she said.

“Due to the downpour and poor visibility, it was difficult to determine the exact damages and impact caused by the rain.”

Mafumbatha said the team split into three sections and was busy doing a full assessment of the damage on Thursday.

She said those needing assistance could contact the Msunduzi call centre at 080 003 3911 or the emergency control centre at 033 845 5911.

She added that people could also contact their ward councillors.

“The Msunduzi Municipality would like to express its heartfelt sympathy to all those who were affected,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  flooding

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