‘In a split second everything fell’

2019-04-25 16:11

The National Treasury is in the process of providing funds to assist with disaster relief for parts of KwaZulu-Natal which were devastated by heavy rains this week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said this yesterday while leading a delegation of provincial and national ministers to assess damage. He warned that the severe flooding was a result of climate change, saying that government was making efforts to respond to it.

The death toll yesterday increased to more than 60 people, and more than 1 000 people have been displaced.

Serious damage was seen mainly in the suburbs south of Durban, including Umlazi and Chatsworth, and also Amanzimtoti.

A stretch of water at the Durban harbour is covered in thick layers of debris, litter and tree branches.

At the scene of a massive sinkhole in Amanzimtoti that has been widely photographed, where a large chunk of Rockview Road disappeared, what’s left of two beachside homes tells the story of the drama of the storm.

eThekwini Municipality workers were out yesterday assessing the damage, as onlookers milled outside, snapping photographs of the large sinkhole. Police had at times to stop members of the public getting past police tape and too close to the hole.

The incident sent shockwaves through the leafy suburb’s community, which could not believe the extent of the damage.

Two vehicles, fences, overhead telephone wires and housing fixtures were all still at the bottom of the sunken hole yesterday morning.

Johan Fourie, who lives in one of the homes, said about “only a quarter” of the structure was remaining.

“I was at home with my wife and grandson when it happened and I was in the bar area,” Fourie told The Witness. “There was a heavy downpour and water came through the garage and into the passage, and then the wall of my neighbour’s house collapsed first.

“Then in just a split second everything fell.”

He said he lost most of his belongings, including an SUV and Mercedes-Benz. “Everything I’ve worked for over the years is gone. There are things I’d lost that I can’t replace,” an emotional Fourie said.

He is currently staying with relatives as the owner of the home, who lives in Rome, tries to attend to the problem.

Ramaphosa was accompanied by a delegation which included eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede, MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Cogta Minister Zweli Mkhize and acting Premier Sihle Zikalala.

The president told the media that he cut short meetings in Egypt to attend to the flood damage.

“Money has been mobilised [from National Treasury] to assist people … it is part of an emergency budget,” he said, without giving details on the amount.

“I am very pleased with our teams which came to the rescue … we managed to mobilise various units in a short space of time.”

Cogta’s Dube-Ncube said the country should brace itself for “aggressive” changes in weather caused by climate change.

“We need to ensure there’s a lot of adaptation and education for people about how and where to build [homes] and what to do and what not to do. We need to ensure that all response machinery is ready.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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