South Africa - Durban - 23 APRIL- 2019 - Houses built near the Umhlathuzana rivercollapsed during the dissaster rains in Marrianhil Picture Bongani Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - The provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has called on residents and visitors to remain on full alert until the bad weather subsides in Durban.

The department yesterday warned that if threatening situations arose, residents should move to higher ground.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Human Settlement and Public Works MEC Ravi Pillay, eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, deputy mayor Fawzia Peer and Exco led assessments and relief efforts in Durban yesterday.

“Some of those people have already found refuge with their relatives, however those without alternative accommodation will be provided with temporary shelter as close to their homes as possible,” said Dube-Ncube.

She said Cogta was working closely with the eThekwini metro to ensure that emergency relief efforts were co-ordinated and timeous.

Additional capacity from Msunduzi and iLembe District municipalities was also sourced.

“At the same time, we’d like to assure the general public that our disaster management teams are working around the clock to attend to all reported incidents.

“Where help is needed, it’s already on its way or will be very soon.

“We’re overwhelmed, but our presence throughout KwaZulu-Natal ensures that we’ll be able to assist everywhere we are called,” said Dube-Ncube.

“We’ve calling on residents of low- lying areas to move to higher ground without delay.

“And motorists and pedestrians are urged to exercise utmost caution on the roads that are already flooded or where there’s a high risk of flash flooding,” she said.

Parts of the province experienced power failures as a result of the extreme weather. “Damages are estimated to run into millions of rand,” she said.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of relief organisation Gift of the Givers, said they had been receiving calls from many areas requiring assistance.

He said the destruction varied in degree from area to area and teams were first verifying the information by going to the affected area, “which has made the process very slow due to access”.

“The first area we reached was Welbedacht, where 10 houses were destroyed and eight people were washed away. The second area was Bottlebrush in Chatsworth, where 80 houses were washed away and 200 people were left homeless,” said Sooliman.

By late afternoon, Sooliman said they had received more calls from Lamontville, Palmiet Road, Dakota in Isipingo, RK Khan Informal Settlement, uMlazi and other areas.

“We’ll start intervening area by area immediately after we have verified the information,” he said.

He said Gift of the Givers would provide humanitarian aid directly to communities and families who suffered severe material loss in the current storm.

“This includes blankets, plastic sheeting, new clothing, shoes, food, baby milk, linen, dishes, stationery, diapers, sanitary pads, school clothing and other relevant items,” said Sooliman.

Sikhumbuzo Biyela, the provincial manager of the SA Red Cross Society, was part of a meeting between eThekwini disaster management and non-profit organisations yesterday morning.

He said all logistics were to be finalised in a second meeting scheduled to take place last night.

“We’re involved and we’re going to provide relief in the form of clothing and hot meals, but it will be decided in that meeting and we need to respect that protocol,” said Biyela.