Durban - The cost of the damage to homes and infrastructure in storm-hit areas could exceed almost R1 billion, the eThekwini Municipality’s disaster management department said.
The Independent on Saturday’s sister paper, The Mercury, reported yesterday that the Durban Chamber of Commerce, through an insurance company, had estimated that damage to infrastructure incurred by businesses was between R400m and R500m, including uninsured losses.
The eventual cost of storm damage could get close to R1 billion if losses to working hours were taken in to account. 
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen visited the province yesterday to assess the state of the damage.
He said people he had spoken to in Isipingo had told him the storm was unlike anything they had ever experienced.
“We mourn those who have lost their lives in this disaster and sympathise with those who have suffered devastation. We still have some citizens unaccounted for and encourage rescue teams to ensure that those who are unaccounted for are found.
“We’re grateful that emergency services have proved to be up to the task,” Van Rooyen said.
The city’s head of disaster management, Vincent Ngubane, said private residences, municipal houses and flats had felt the brunt of the storm.
Ngubane was speaking to Independent Media on the sidelines of this year’s International Day for Disaster  Reduction held at the  Holiday Inn, Garden Court, in Durban.
Van Rooyen warned “we are not yet out of the woods”. 
He said the devastation was a reminder of the importance of disaster reduction work and urged cities to ensure they were resilient enough to deal with disasters.
“The commemoration of this day focuses on reducing the number of people affected by disasters, particularly the elderly and the disabled who are at greater risk of death,” he said.  
Ngubane said the storm and floods had not had a major impact on the city’s beaches. Debris from streams and rivers had made its way on to the beaches and the parks department was busy with the clean-up efforts.
“None of the infrastructure on the beaches was destroyed apart from the Isipingo area where there’s been some damage. 
“The storm hit the areas of Isipingo, Bluff, Montclair and parts of uMlazi the hardest,” Ngubane said.
Ngubane said some areas around the city had also been severely affected by power outages resulting from the storm, but electricity had been restored in certain areas.
“There are teams from the electricity department that are out in areas affected by power outages, particularly in the north of the city.
“Parts of Isipingo do not have electricity, but there are teams working on those areas because a lot of cables were damaged by fallen trees,” Ngubane said.
He said municipal electrical teams were working around the clock to ensure that electricity was restored as soon as possible.
Ngubane said the city’s emergency response teams had not yet been able to reach all the areas affected by the storm and floods.
The Independent on Saturday