DURBAN - Ethekwini Municipality mayor Zandile Gumede says ageing infrastructure and clogged stormwater drains were not to blame for several mudslides and the damage and destruction to several homes and roads in Monday's floods.

Gumede was answering questions during a media briefing hosted by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) at the Coastlands Hotel in Musgrave.

She said she had visited some of the worst-hit areas in the city and had not found blocked drains, despite that being the main complaint from most of the residents affected by the storm.

At the briefing, Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube revealed that a total of 85 people had lost their lives across the province.

She said the figures including deaths in other municipalities including Ugu (Port Shepstone) and King Cetshwayo (Richards Bay).

Dube-Ncube said eThekwini had once again been in the heart of the recent storm, recording the highest death toll.

Dube-Ncube said reports of missing people were still trickling in.

A number of social interventions have been set up for those who lost loved ones and their homes in the downpour.

Cogta has handed out food packages, started feeding schemes and arranged uniforms for children to attend school.

The department has also set up counselling stations in affected areas to offer support to grieving families.

"The unprecedented ferocity of this storm has interrupted many people’s lives; however we are working o alleviate the impact of these disasters and to bring the lives of the people affected back to normality," she said.

Dube-Ncube said they were working to finalise funeral support arrangements to ensure decent burials for the deceased.

“A support desk has also been set up at the city’s Disaster Management Centre. The Department of Home Affairs is assisting to issue temporary IDs and all relevant documents to affected families.

“The city has provided temporary shelters for flood-stricken families in 11 community halls,” she said.

Gumede’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, urged residents to pay attention to weather alerts.

He said if residents did not feel safe, they should immediately leave their homes and move to higher ground.

THE MERCURY