Heavy storm devastates Hilton

2020-02-24 14:30
Tankiso Mndaweni, from Ellias Garden Services, helps cut down a massive Jacaranda tree that fell at St Anne's Diocesan College during the storm that devastated Hilton on Saturday evening. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

Tankiso Mndaweni, from Ellias Garden Services, helps cut down a massive Jacaranda tree that fell at St Anne's Diocesan College during the storm that devastated Hilton on Saturday evening. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

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Winds of over 100 km/h and rain wreaked havoc in Hilton and some parts of Pietermaritzburg on Saturday afternoon — uprooting trees, tearing down branches and knocking out power.

The storm came just days after another ripped through Pietermaritzburg.

It blew off roofs in Mpophomeni and Mafakathini. Uprooted trees, broken branches and splintered trunks still littered the streets on Sunday and some residents in the city were still without power from last Thursday’s storm.

A frustrated Sone Graham told The Witness that her mother and stepfather had been forced to throw out meat because they had been without electricity since a tree knocked out powerlines in Oribi.

The tree has since been cut down, but despite numerous calls to the municipality, the couple remain without power. “It’s not acceptable. My parents are on a limited income. They can’t afford to throw out food,” Graham added.

On Saturday, power went out in Hilton, Foxhill, Mpumelelo, Bishopstowe, Claridge, Mpumuza and along several streets in Pietermaritzburg.

uMngeni Municipality councillor Pam Passmoor said the Msunduzi Municipality was trying hard to restore the power in Hilton, adding that it was a huge exercise. “All the electricity vans are up here trying to restore the power. Contractors have been employed to trim and clear the trees off the lines.

“The uMngeni Municipality disaster management team is out with the fire chief inspecting what they can do,” she said.

Witness Facebook readers shared their experiences of the storm.

Nompilo Charity KaNondaba said the roof of her aunt’s house and a church blew away in Mpophomeni township. Electricity cables lay scattered on the road, she added.

Welcome Ntshele of Mafathini said his roof also flew away in the storm.

Weather forecaster Stacy Calborne could not confirm speculation that the storm was a tornado.

“We had a severe thunderstorm warning issued for the Hilton area and most of the interior of KZN,” she added. “With a severe thunderstorm, one would expect very strong winds, heavy rain, hail and lightning. With regards to a tornado, we checked the radar and satellite imagery and can confirm severe thunderstorms. They had very strong winds.” At Cedara the wind speed was recorded at 119 km per hour, while in Pietermaritzburg it was 86 km per hour.

Calborne said the storm travelled from Bulwer and moved to Pietermaritzburg and then New Hanover. It started at 5.45 pm and ended at 6.30 pm.

Elsewhere in the province there was localised flooding in Umziwabantu, Ndwedwe, Umvoti, Kokstad, Umzumbe, Newcastle, Ubuhlebezwe and the Umzimkhulu municipalities.

The KZN Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) department reported that several houses were submerged under water and some mud houses were totally destroyed in other areas.

One person is known to have died as a result of the weekend storms. The 28-year-old woman was one of four passengers in a vehicle that was washed off a low-lying bridge in the Nonti area.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  storm
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