150 people, including children, rescued in Ladysmith

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ABOVE: K-9 Search and rescue from Pietermaritzburg and Ladysmith using rubber boats to evacuate people from Alexander and Forbes Street, yesterday morning. The lower parts of Ladysmith were flooded after the Klip River burst its banks on Sunday night. Pictured are Pietermaritzburg Search and Rescue team Sergeant Jesse Mare (front) and Warrant officer Karl Gous escorting children who were stuck in a flat in the Ladysmith CBD. PHOTO: Claudine Senekal (Ladysmith Herald)
ABOVE: K-9 Search and rescue from Pietermaritzburg and Ladysmith using rubber boats to evacuate people from Alexander and Forbes Street, yesterday morning. The lower parts of Ladysmith were flooded after the Klip River burst its banks on Sunday night. Pictured are Pietermaritzburg Search and Rescue team Sergeant Jesse Mare (front) and Warrant officer Karl Gous escorting children who were stuck in a flat in the Ladysmith CBD. PHOTO: Claudine Senekal (Ladysmith Herald)

Some 150 people, including children, were rescued in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday after the town was flooded following torrential rain in the area over the past two weeks.

Twenty-five children between the ages of eight weeks and 10 years old, were evacuated during the floods.

A further 125 adults were taken to the Ladysmith Indoor Sport’s Centre after homes and businesses situated in the CBD were completely flooded when the Klip River burst its banks on Sunday evening.

K9 Search and Rescue teams from Pietermaritzburg and Ladysmith used rubber boats to evacuate people from Alexander, Forbes, King, and Lyell streets.

Water levels measured up to two metres in some places and in other areas, deeper. “In some places, it is extremely difficult to stand, and water had flooded most lower parts of the CBD”, said a resident.

Businesses had tried to stop the water by blocking doorways with sand bags, but this did not stop the water from seeping into the shops.

“I don’t know what to do, this is my livelihood, and it is all gone,” said one of the business owners, who had to be taken by boat to higher ground.

RIGHT: A man carries a few belongings as he crosses a flooded street in Ladysmith CBD yesterday.PHOTO: Claudine Senekal

The police officers evacuated everyone along the flooded street and families were seen leaving flooded homes carrying only necessary items.

It was reported that three people had been washed away since the beginning of the heavy downpours and flash flooding in the Ladysmith area in December.

Police said that the incidents were reported in the Besters area, Ezakheni, and Bergville. The bodies have not yet been found.

uThukela District Municipality said their premises were also inaccessible due to high levels of water that flooded their ground-level offices.

Disaster management services were responding to call-outs.

Action taken included pumping water out of affected homes, evacuations, and providing sandbags.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) said their disaster management teams were working together with various non-governmental organisations to provide immediate relief, such as blankets, sponges and hot meals to the affected residents.

The department also said in the town of Msinga, heavy rains caused the uThukela River to burst its banks and flood surrounding areas.

Disaster management teams were evacuating residents to safer places, such as community halls.

Cogta MEC, Sipho Hlomuka has warned against building along river banks and crossing low-lying bridges in KwaZulu-Natal. “We have recently experienced inclement weather conditions, which have left a trail of death and destruction in their wake.

“So far, 25 people have died, with one person missing and R3,3 billion in damages has been incurred during the current summer season.

“We appeal to residents to be cautious,” said Hlomuka.


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