Ladysmith - Heavy rains battered the KwaZulu-Natal town of Ladysmith on Monday night, compounding the problems caused by a hailstorm the night before.
Between 300 and 500 houses had roofs destroyed when hailstones, some as big as tennis balls, rained down on Ladysmith and Estcourt.
As light broke on Tuesday morning as many as 1 000 homes had been affected by the weather, according to Abed Karrim, project co-ordinator of the Al-Imdaad Foundation.
The foundation sent an emergency relief team to Ladysmith yesterday to residents in the suburbs of Acaciavale, Ntombi’s Camp and Steadville.
“The hailstones were huge and they caused roofs to collapse. This was followed by a heavy downpour, which in turn damaged people’s belongings,” said Karrim.
The foundation distributed much needed aid to the affected areas.
“We spent the night distributing blankets and mattresses and will continue to hand out plastic and tarpaulin sheets to protect homes from heavy downpours,” Karrim said.
The situation had deteriorated on Monday night, Karrim said.
“What is making this even worse is that there is a black-out in the area. The street lights are not working and people fear for their safety. We are doing the best we can under the circumstances,” he said.
The area had been hard hit by severe downpours last night.
“People have now lost everything – their belongings are all soaked and damaged.”
Charmaine Pillay of Acaciavale said she was staying in her house, despite the damage.
“The ceiling fell down and the roof is bad, but we live in an area with a high crime rate, so we have to stay to protect what’s left,” she said.
The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa said it would be distributing 500 food hampers to affected families today and tomorrow, after providing hot meals yesterday.
According to preliminary assessments conducted by the MEC for Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomusa Dube, in her capacity as the political head of disaster management, the wards of Acaciavale, Steadville, Tsakane and Model Kloof in Ladysmith were the worst affected areas.
Dube led a team of disaster management personnel to provide emergency assistance to scores of homeless families. The disaster management teams distributed blankets, food and necessities.
Dube invited insurance companies to come up with a mechanism for processing victims’ claims speedily so they can spend Christmas in their homes because some of the houses are bonded.
Dube thanked the SANDF and other organisations who came forward to help.
The SA Weather Service’s Wisane Maluleke said the bad weather would start to ease by Wednesday. A statement was issued warning of severe thunderstorms over KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State.
“Bearing in mind that KwaZulu-Natal could experience significant downpours [today], the likelihood of rapid overland run-off and localised flooding will be increased, thus elevating the general risk.”
The public was urged not to try to cross rivers and streams in flood, on foot or in a vehicle, and “to apply the usual common-sense measures so as to limit their risk of being struck by lightning whilst outdoors”. - Daily News