Yankatamah Naidoo, 69, was with her daughter, Merissa Naidoo, 28, when the river nearly carried away Merissa’s car which was parked in their driveway under the carport.
When the river flowed past Naidoo’s backyard, it took with it her fruit and vegetable garden, carport, washing shelter, and fence and foundation for her outbuilding, which she rented out.
“In a second, everything was washed away,” Naidoo said. “When Merissa removed her car from under the carport, everything collapsed.”
She said according to their insurance company, the outbuilding would have to be demolished and rebuilt. Estimated repairs would come close to R1million.
She said it was the first month without her source of income - the outbuilding - and she was not sure how she would survive financially.
She also did not know what she would have done had her daughter not been there.
“So far, only people from the municipality’s electricity department came here, and the local councillor only came through last Saturday to survey the damage,” she said.
Naidoo said she had been living there for 35 years and it was the second time her backyard had been washed away. The first time was in October 2017, when her wall, carport and garden were washed away.
Both mother and daughter felt the problems were caused by a lack of maintenance by the eThekwini Municipality. “To date there hasn’t been a single offer from the municipality to assist or assess damages, nor has it made much of an effort to do any repairs to their portion of the land,” said Naidoo.
She said for the past week all work on the road leading to the house, Heron Street, had stopped. Residents were afraid of being stranded if the rest of this road collapsed because the road was reduced to a single lane after one lane collapsed.
Ward 65 councillor Samantha Windvogel visited Naidoo and the area on Saturday.
“They (municipality) have to secure the bridge (on Heron Street) first, then heavy-duty vehicles can go through. (The Umhlatuzana River flows underneath this bridge.) They have managed to open one lane so residents can have access, but there have been delays because of the strike,” Windvogel said.
She said the Roads Department had responded swiftly but had warned “residents must understand those repairs cannot be done overnight”.
“Once the bridge is secure, other work will follow.”
Windvogel also said disaster management had a list of all the houses affected during the heavy rains.