La Mercy family safe after mudslide and flooding, husband speaks of ordeal
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DURBAN - A LA MERCY man has spoken of the ordeal his family went through yesterday after he received a call that his pregnant wife and mother-in-law were trapped in their house due to a mudslide caused by heavy rain.
Matthew Cooper said he was extremely worried when his wife, Natalie, called him to tell him they were trapped.
Natalie and her mother, Saroj Naidoo, were rescued by emergency services yesterday morning. They were not injured.
Cooper said the mudslide came after a nearby house partially collapsed last month after a stormwater pipe burst in heavy rains.
“When that house collapsed, I was in my yard with a spade trying to free my vehicles because that mud was washing away through my yard. From then it rained a few times and the house would get flooded inside.”
Cooper said engineers had assessed the problem previously, but he did not know what action was taken.
“What were the correct measures taken to ensure that something like this does not happen again? How many houses do they want to be washed away before they take action, or are they waiting for someone to lose their life?” Cooper asked.
He said the municipality had previously said they needed to evacuate the house but there were no alternatives offered to them.
“It would be fair if other means of accommodation were offered to us while they try to fix this problem, we don’t know where to go and who to call,” he said.
He said they were thinking of moving in with relatives because they did not feel safe staying in their home. He said one of his vehicles was written off in the mudslide while his mother-in-law’s vehicle was stuck in the yard.
Cooper’s neighbour, Meganathan Chetty, said the mud had also washed into his yard and his vehicle was stuck.
“My son is doing matric and he will start his exams soon, I do not know how I will take him to school because my car can’t get in and out of my yard. The house is in danger of collapsing,” said Chetty.
He added that he had been sending emails to the municipality asking for assistance, so that they could remove the sand in his yard, but there had not been any response.
Ward councillor Geoff Pullan, who was present at the scene, said he had sent a message to disaster management and the matter would be attended to.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Senzo Mzila said there had not been any incidents reported except for the mudslide in La Mercy.
He said Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka warned residents to be vigilant as above-average rainfall was expected which could lead to landslides.
EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city’s disaster management was alerted about yesterday’s incident and the fire department, engineers and other officials had responded.
He said the city had appointed a contractor to undertake rehabilitation work on an emergency basis after the partial house collapse incident last month.
“The site was handed over to the contractor on September 29 and he was busy with the repair/reinstatement work when we unfortunately experienced more heavy rainfall.
“Most of the material had been replaced and we were busy with assembling the stormwater line that had to be laid. Unfortunately, we experienced another heavy downpour and material that was placed within the previously eroded area was washed away and deposited in the downstream property,” said Mayisela.
He said the work was being expedited to ensure that the stormwater pipe was reinstated in the shortest possible time.