DURBAN - LADYSMITH residents who had to be evacuated from their homes after severe flooding in the town over the past few days, say they are devastated and have lost all their belongings.
Yesterday when The Mercury visited the town, parts of the CBD were still under water and some residents were trying to make it across the flooded streets.
The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs(Cogta) Department said that at least 70 residents had been evacuated from the flooded areas in Ladysmith and moved to the Indoor Sports Centre.
It said Ladysmith had received significant rainfall over the weekend, which led to the Klip River bursting its banks and flooding parts of the CBD.
Residents of Forbes Street in Ladysmith, who had been evacuated to the Indoor Sports Centre, said they wanted the government to help them find alternative accommodation.
Flood victim Nonkululeko Hadebe said this was the second time that her home had been flooded.
“I am very sad about what has happened. We were already doing our best to survive with the little that we have, and now our homes have been flooded,” said Hadebe.
She added that her home had also been flooded in February last year.
“We were left with nothing, despite them taking our details and promising to help us. The water flooded our homes again now and we were brought here. Fortunately, the water quickly subsided,” she said.
Hadebe said she believed that a faulty drainage system was one of the reasons for the flooding.
Fanelwa Sohe, another flood victim, said that permanent relocation was the best possible solution.
“They need to build alternative, permanent residences for us, preferably by the Indoor Sports Centre because we no longer feel safe being in Forbes Street because these floods strike whenever and damage the little that we have.
“These blocked drains are also problematic because they fill up when it rains and the dirt underneath rises. This is a health hazard for us,” said Sohe.
She added that she had lost all her belongings when the water flooded her home.
“I don’t have anything left to my name except for the clothes on my back. All my belongings are wet, and all my important documents,” she said.
Police spokesperson Joseph Hlatshwayo said that the flooding had also affected traffic.
“Cars travelling to Newcastle from the N11 are being redirected, because the roads are extremely flooded and that is causing major traffic congestion,” said Hlatshwayo.
He added that the extent of the damage had yet to be assessed, but it was fortunate that no fatalities had been reported.
Cogta said that MEC Sipho Hlomuka had deployed disaster management teams to the area, and these teams were working together with various non-governmental organisations to provide immediate relief, such as blankets, sponges and hot meals to the affected residents.
Relief organisation Al-Imdaad said many families had been evacuated and rescued through a collaborative effort in which it had taken part, as well as the SAPS K9 Unit, SAPS Search and Rescue Unit and Cogta’s disaster management teams.
“Several families were rescued from a low-lying area of the CBD, including an elderly lady who was taken to her family. Al-Imdaad Foundation assisted in the provision of rubber dinghies for the evacuation.
“Currently, many of the stormwater drains are blocked, which is pushing water back into residential areas. Sewage water has also been pushed out, creatinga potential health hazard.”
The foundation said once the flood waters in the river system subsided, water from the roads and CBD would start to recede and proper clean-ups and assessments could be performed.
“We will then have a clearer picture of the type of assistance needed going forward. Al-Imdaad Foundation teams are doing their best to assist, together with disaster management.”
Jabulani Mkhonza, the spokesperson for the Uthukela District Municipality, under which Ladysmith falls, said they did not have an exact number of people affected as yet.
He said in a meeting yesterday that stakeholders had agreed to provide the evacuated residents with three meals a day.
Meanwhile, in the town of Msinga heavy rains caused the uThukela River to burst its banks and flood surrounding areas.
Cogta said disaster management teams had evacuated residents to safer places.
Hlomuka urged residents to avoid crossing low-lying bridges.
“We have recently experienced inclement weather conditions that have left a trail of death and destruction in their wake. So far 25 people have died with one person missing, and R3.3 billion in damages has been incurred during the current summer season. We appeal to residents to be cautious,” said Hlomuka.