KZN counts storm cost

2017-10-12 12:45
Pedestrians walk around a massive sinkhole on Phila Ndwandwe Road in Isipingo after Tuesday’s storm.

Pedestrians walk around a massive sinkhole on Phila Ndwandwe Road in Isipingo after Tuesday’s storm. (Ian Carbutt)

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Durban - Residents of Durban awoke on Wednesday to never-before­-scenes of chaos and destruction.

Collapsed buildings and walls, enormous sinkholes on roads, massive power outages, blocked stormwater drains and sewer lines, flooded buildings and households, and a sea of mud and debris were left for authorities to confront in the aftermath of Tuesday’s monster storm which has claimed at least 11 lives thus far.

Grateful to be alive, Lungile Gumede (52) recounted the terrifying ordeal she faced as the deluge and strong winds reached her home.

The door of Gumede’s low-lying informal house on Yeni Yeni Road in Umlazi’s D section was jammed shut as water flooded in through every opening.

“I thought I was going to die inside. The water had filled up and was sitting just below my nose. I was fearing the worst and I was screaming for help.”

Her screams alerted her son, Samkelo (27), who was outside at the time.

“I tried to first pull her out of the window, but she was too big. Then I picked up a hammer and smashed the door.”

The two then immediately ran to higher ground, leaving all their possessions behind.

The family, which includes Gumede’s other son, Siyabonga (12), spent yesterday trying to recover some of their possessions and clean their home with the help of neighbours.

“I came home from school and saw the windows cracked and the fridge and other stuff lying on the floor and I started crying,” Siyabonga said.

“The school clothes I was wearing are the only dry clothes I have now.”

Gumede said: “We have nothing. Today we had to survive with bread given to us by a neighbour.”

Not far from that home, Fernando Ferreira, who lives with his wife in an informal house built on a floodplain which leads to the Mfongosi River, said he also watched helplessly as his belongings flowed out of his flooded house.

“We heard a really strong wind, then suddenly water rushed in. We ran for our lives to a neighbour’s house.”

He said all their belongings vanished in the flood, including their ID documents.

The floodplain below their house was clogged up with hundreds of plastic bottles, branches and pieces of litter which were washed down from higher ground.

Umlazi’s D section was one of the worst hit areas.

Areas south of Durban like Isipingo and Amanzimtoti also bore the brunt of the storm.

Parts of Umgeni Road and the Durban harbour sustained major damage and waterlogging.

Residents were seen trying to clean up their homes in affected areas on Wednesday morning.

eThekwini staff worked to remove fallen trees which flanked South Coast Road, the R102 and roads in the Umbilo area.

Businessman Tony Outar said he watched in horror as goods and tools floated out of his shop in Isipingo.

Outar, who owns a bottle store, workshop and car dealership all next to each other, said: “I got in at about 8.30 am and immediately water started flowing into the shop in waves. I saw cars being lifted up and floating off.”

Outar said he saw one car float as far as the railway track across the road.

While taking cover in a restaurant he also owns above the three shops, he said he saw the pavement outside the shop cave in because of the heavy rain.

“We watched helplessly as my stuff floated out. The place was like a sea.”

Outar and his staff were on Wednesday clearing mud and water from the shops. He suspected there was R1 million in damage done, and said it would take weeks to get his shops running again.

The provincial government could not provide the full assessment of the damage on Wednesday, but estimated it was worth millions of rands.

At least 11 people died during the storm, according to provincial police.

Authorities work to help affected residents 

On Wednesday, a delegation of provincial MECs and the authorities visited residents in areas around Durban to inspect damage.

Acting MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Weziwe Thusi, said damage included 19 collapsed buildings and perimeter walls, blocked stormwater drains and sewer lines, flooded buildings and households, and power outages due to electric cable damage.

As many as 500 power outages were reported in eThekwini on Tuesday, and Thusi said municipal technical staff were working to restore the power supply.

She said displaced communities have been temporarily accommodated in community halls.

Meanwhile, Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said 42 schools were affected by the storm, nine of which are high schools.

He said plans were in place to ensure matric pupils would be able to write their exams at affected schools.

Mahlambi said some schools were closed due to the extent of the storm damage on Wednesday.

KZN police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said five people were reported missing.

“Police received more than 150 calls related to Tuesday’s weather and they have been working tirelessly with other Disaster Management Services to assist the victims,” Zwane said.

eThekwini Metro Police spokesperson Superintendent Sbonelo Mchunu confirmed on Wednesday that all Durban roads were cleared of obstructions.

Muhammad Sooliman of Gift of the Givers said they had their teams on standby in Durban from Tuesday night. He said they had distributed blankets and food parcels to various areas.

Read more on:    durban  |  pietermaritzburg  |  weather  |  floods

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