The city of Durban, outlying regions and rural parts of the province are beginning to count the costs of the ferocious storm that lashed KZN on Tuesday.
At least two people have been confirmed dead, there were numerous dramatic rescues, vehicles were destroyed in flooding, and homes, particularly in the south of Durban, were flooded, roofs and wall collapsed and sinkholes appeared on properties.
A statement by ER24 indicated that there was severe flooding of roads in Amanzimtoti, on the N2 between Amanzimtoti and M7 Bluff, a mudslide near Doonside and that several other roads had been closed off.
The KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) said in a statement it was co-ordinating relief efforts. The storm has caused major damage to hospitals, factories, homes and other key infrastructure, it said. “It has caused power outages and two deaths reported at this stage. Many residential areas, businesses, especially in Ethekwini Metro are reporting flash flooding,” it said.
Other major incidents were reported in Nquthu Local Municipality, in ward 8 of Mbewunye where an 8-year-old girl was struck by lightning and in ward 2, KwaMngxangala area, where a 46 year old man drowned while trying to cross an overflowing river. Ugu reported that Mbango bridge under Ray Nkonyeni LM and Umzinto bridge in Mdoni are flooding.
According to reports from paramedics, a policeman was killed in the Bayhead area when a container collapsed on to a police vehicle.
“The traffic authorities are closely monitoring the situation. Most of eThekwini areas are affected by strong winds with heavy downpours resulting in the falling of trees and some housing infrastructure in parts of Umlazi, Amanzimtoti, Montclair,” the department said.
The authorities urged residents to stay at home, for their own safety, unless in an emergency situation.
Acting MEC for Cogta, Weziwe Thusi, dispatched all disaster management teams to respond to the situation on the ground. “Teams are providing emergency relief led by mayors, Councilors, amakhosi, Izinduna, ward councilors and community development workers.”
Thusi had activated Joint Operations Centers in all affected municipalities which were coordinating relief and rapid response efforts.
“We are urging residents in all parts of the province to exercise extra caution as the heavy rain and gale-force winds will be in the province for the rest of today” said Thusi.
“We warn those living next to river banks and low-lying areas as localised flooding is expected along the coast and in many parts of the South Coast and eThekwini metro,” said Thusi.
The department warned that the storm would be followed by a cold front which is expected to reach KZN by the weekend. It said disaster management teams would continue to provide emergency assistance as long as necessary.
The Health Department said at least five hospitals have been affected.
King Edward, Addington, King Dinuzulu and Wentworth and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals have borne the brunt of the storm.
“Management at these health facilities were assessing the extent of the damage and doing all they could to ensure patient care and safety.
“The Department wishes to urge the public to be calm and understanding. Furthermore, the Department wishes to urge people who do not have serious ailments to delay their visits to the affected hospitals,” it said in a statement issued by Sam Mkhwanazi.