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KZN picks up the pieces after the worst floods in decades

The aftermath of heavy rains and flooding in parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Kopano Tlape

The aftermath of heavy rains and flooding in parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Kopano Tlape

Published Apr 14, 2022

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Durban – The death toll in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of heavy rains and flooding in parts of the province currently stands at 306.

Four hours earlier, the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) had reported that 259 people had lost their lives.

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The death toll spiked from 45 the previous day to 259 the next day.

In the last update of Wednesday at 9pm, Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka said mop-up operations had commenced in parts of the province following the heavy rains that led to widespread flooding during the past few days.

“The latest reports indicate that 306 people have lost their lives as a result of the heavy rains,” Hlomuka said.

When eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda briefed the media on Tuesday, he indicated that these floods were different to those experienced in 2019, 2017 and 2011.

In April 2019, Cogta said more than 71 people lost their lives.

In October 2017, an eThekwini report said there were 13 confirmed fatalities.

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He said previous floods were concentrated in parts of eThekwini but the recent floods affected the whole of eThekwini.

Moreover, the floods stretched out to most parts of KZN.

Earlier this week, the South African Weather Service had issued a warning for widespread showers for all coastal areas of KZN - uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo, Ilembe, eThekwini and Ugu.

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The aftermath of heavy rains and flooding in parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Kopano Tlape

Hlomuka added that members of the KZN provincial executive committee would continue visiting affected areas to lead the roll-out of relief to communities in need.

He also said that municipal services like electricity, water and refuse removal had already resumed in some areas.

“Residents are urged to be patient as teams in many municipalities affected by the flooding are stretched to capacity,” Hlomuka said.

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Meanwhile, Premier Sihle Zikalala welcomed the declaration of a State of Disaster in KZN.

“The visit by His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa to these storm-damaged areas has been a welcome boost to our call for the province to be declared a state of disaster. We are pleased that the president was able to take the whole day to come witness for himself the havoc that has been unleashed by the recent heavy rains,” Zikalala said.

Ramaphosa and a delegation were in the province to offer support to affected communities and assess the response of government and civil society to this critical situation.

Zikalala said there were billions worth of destruction to critical infrastructure. Water and electricity supply has also been badly affected in most areas of KZN and over 200 schools have been damaged in the aftermath of this inclement weather.

The aftermath of heavy rains and flooding in parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Kopano Tlape

Provincial spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said that on Wednesday night, the provincial executive council convened another special meeting where it resolved to intensify efforts to respond to disaster incidents.

From Thursday morning, all MECs will visit various districts affected and lead profiling of all affected families, quantify the damage to each affected and ensure immediate interventions through disaster management officials. The magnitude of the disaster is unprecedented and requires the provincial government, municipalities and social partners to be all hands on deck.

“The provincial government is also mobilising resources to speed up the recovery of missing people,” Mabaso said.

“Today Eskom and municipalities will give a report on efforts to restore water and electricity in all affected areas. The cabinet is aware that interventions are hampered to an extent by disrupted infrastructure networks but has directed that no effort must be spared in reaching the affected people.”

Mabaso said the government will also be facilitating counselling to victims.

“A plan for a provincial Prayer Day and memorial services for victims including various support interventions to bereaved families is being finalised,” Mabaso said.

He added that the executive council was mounting a spirited response to the crisis and will be working with mayors and councillors and ground structures such as community workers and municipal disaster teams.

Food supplies, vouchers, blankets and other necessities will be provided to affected people.

“The declaration of a state of disaster opens the way for an orderly and coordinated response to this crisis. The declaration requires organs of state to strengthen support to existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place to enable the province to effectively deal with the effects of the disaster,” Mabaso concluded.

Cabinet deployment plan:

  • Zikalala will be in the Ilembe District, the second most affected after eThekwini with more than 22 deaths.
  • Treasury MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Cogta MEC Hlomuka will be in the uThukela (Ladysmith) areas.
  • Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay will be in eThekwini, the epicentre of the disaster with the most rain and damage.
  • Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane will be in the Ugu District where more than five people were killed.
  • Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi will be in the King Cetshwayo District (Eshowe, Richards Bay areas).
  • Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu will be in the uMgungundlovu District.
  • Sports, Arts and Culture MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela will be in the uMzinyathi District (Dundee, Msinga and other areas).

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