WATCH: 'We want to live and we want to keep moving' – Durban residents rebuild after flooding

2019-04-26 12:38
A local resident stands over debris at the Quarry road informal settlement after torrential rains and flash floods in Durban. (AFP)

A local resident stands over debris at the Quarry road informal settlement after torrential rains and flash floods in Durban. (AFP)

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As the first rays of sunshine pierce Durban following heavy rains and localised flooding, one resilient community is fighting the disaster with action.

"It's not that we are not badly affected, but we are not going to give up. We want to live and we want to keep moving."

This was the sentiment of Quarry Road West informal settlement resident Sisa Sombili, 36, who has lived in the area for five years.

While he hails from Bizana in the Eastern Cape, he considers Durban his home.

"We are building ourselves again. I can't sit back and do nothing. What will my family do if I sit back? This is my community and we have to survive."

As News24 arrived at the small community near the Reservoir Hills area on Thursday, it was clear that they were some of the hardest hit by the storms earlier this week.

Many children were seen not attending school because of lack of uniforms, while others reported having entire homes washed away in the adjacent Palmiet River.

"The water just kept coming and there was nothing we could do. People were screaming. Everything was lost and there was chaos," Sombili says, describing the carnage during the first night of flooding.

Another resident - 37-year-old plumber Lungile Nguni - said water had gushed into his home on Tuesday.

"I cannot explain how out of control it was. Everyone here was trying to help each other, but you can't fight rain. It just kept coming into our homes and destroyed everything."

The father of four said, despite losing almost everything, he was also trying to assist his neighbours.

"My children are very small, so we need a lot of help. But we are also helping each other build our homes back up. We are all just trying. The most important thing is to get shelter back. I need a roof for my family the most."

We will take any help

Lungani Lakhena, 45, a resident since 2002, told News24 that there was much that was still required.

"We did not have any casualties, but there is a lot that the people lost."

He said that, with entire homes washed away, people lacked basic items such as clothes, sleeping blankets and mattresses.

"We need this the most. Children have also not been going to school since Tuesday, because they do not have uniforms."

A clearly exhausted Lakhena adds: "Any help. We will take any help."

He claimed that hundreds had been displaced, forcing many to seek shelter with relatives. A tent had also been erected at the entrance of the settlement that residents would use as temporarily shelter.

ALSO READ: 'She was ready to give up' – KZN man describes how he nearly lost his sister in floods

Gift of the Givers was also on site to offer assistance, with manager Mohammed Khatib saying they had been inundated with calls.

"We came on board to distribute food hampers and blankets for people in this community."

He said that Quarry Road informal settlement was one of the hardest hit.

"We have been to Shallcross and Bottlebrush; here is the hardest hit area. The most requested items have been blankets and food items."

He said they would probably continue their work in the area for at least four to five days. He urged the public to assist where possible.

Death toll rises

On Thursday, the death toll rose to more than 80 since the Easter weekend, officials revealed during a press briefing.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said that eThekwini Metro, Ugu and King Cetshwayo Districts were the most affected.

She said that, including the Easter weekend church tragedy in Empangeni, the death toll had jumped to a whopping 85 and had been verified by officials on the ground, including police.

READ MORE: KZN floods: Death toll up to 85

When asked how the Quarry Road informal settlement would be assisted, eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede would only say that "all affected areas have been touched by the municipality".

Dube-Ncube said there were still active search and rescue sites, including one at Tshelimyama in Hillcrest where a vehicle was washed away, and one at Mega Philani Bridge in Umlazi where a person was swept away.

She said members of the public who wished to lend a helping hand to victims could send donations to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) offices at Mkondeni, Pietermaritzburg and to KwaZulu-Natal Cogta Mayville offices in Durban.

They have also set up a special bank account for donations. Details include:

ABSA, KZN COGTA DISASTER FUND 2019, 4096334685

Read more on:    durban  |  weather
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