Frail care residents escape serious injury in Howick storm

2020-03-12 13:08
Ceiling boards in the dining room of the Amberfield Care Centre came crashing down on residents and staff during Tuesday’s storm in Howick.

Ceiling boards in the dining room of the Amberfield Care Centre came crashing down on residents and staff during Tuesday’s storm in Howick.

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Nursing staff and carers placed protective arms around the residents of the Amberfield Care Centre when Tuesday night’s storm caused the ceiling in the dining room to come crashing down.

Around 45 residents at the frail care centre, which is within the grounds of the retirement village in Mare Road, Howick, were just finishing their dinner at 5.30 pm when disaster struck.

General manager Malcolm Taylor said the extremely strong winds had swept in under the roof of the building, bringing the ceiling boards down in the kitchen and dining area. Director of St Michael’s Ambulance Service Ryan King said his team had rushed to the centre after being notified of the disaster and had called Netcare 911 and ER24 for back-up as they didn’t know how serious the situation was. “Fortunately only four people were slightly injured and were taken to St Anne’s Hospital as a precaution,” he said.

They were discharged later in the evening and were back home in their beds by midnight.

Taylor praised his staff, especially Sister Davika Rugbeer, whose swift action had helped avert tragedy, and Amberfield chairperson Lawrence Buchanan, who had helped rally people living in the retirement complex to help.

Assessors and engineers were at the frail care centre on Wednesday to examine the damage. Taylor said they hoped the ceiling would be repaired by the end of the week. In the meantime, the residents are having their meals in the lounge area.

Tuesday’s storm, which battered Howick, Merrivale and Mpophomeni with wind, heavy rain and hailstones — described by some residents as the size of golf balls — also ripped off the roof of the Sasol garage in Mpophomeni.

Four cars, three of which had taken shelter from the hail at the petrol station, were damaged by falling metal.

One man narrowly escaped death when part of the roof fell through his windscreen on the driver’s side of the car. Badly injured, he was rushed to Grey’s Hospital for treatment where he is in a serious but stable condition.

Four cars were damaged when the roof of the Sasol garage in Mpophomeni collapsed during a severe storm in the KZN Midlands on Tuesday.

Ayanda Mbambo, the garage site manager, said he was disappointed in the service of the Mpophomeni police, who failed to answer his call for help.

“I had to phone Howick police and they called the emergency services. ER24, the KZN ambulance service, the Howick Fire Department and SAPS search and rescue all came in about 20 minutes,” Mbambo said.

The business is expected to be shut for at least six weeks.

38 homes damaged 

Thirty-eight homes in an area between Imbali and Taylor’s Halt were damaged in the storm which hit Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands on Tuesday afternoon.

A disaster management team from Msunduzi Municipality was working yesterday to establish the extent of the damage. They are also working closely with Gift of the Givers, who have pledged to provide those affected with mattresses, blankets and food hampers. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  storm damage
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