A bakkie uderwater after torrential rains hit Empangeni. Picture:Chatelle Vos

Durban - The streets in the Zululand town of Empangeni resembled rivers at the weekend when the town’s drainage system could not cope with the heavy rain and roads were flooded.

Shops and homes were damaged by the water, and cars were completely submerged.

Resident Dean Maddocks said yesterday that even buses and trucks had been stuck in the middle of Tanner Road in Empangeni since Saturday.

A building supply store had water “all over the place”, he said, adding that he, along with friends, had helped people who were stuck in their cars.

“We dived into the water and helped people. The golf course was also under water,” he said.

Another resident of the town, Sue Jenkins, said trees were uprooted and fell across roads and on to houses.

“Swimming pools were overflowing and homes were badly damaged. The Empangeni Country Club was also flooded,” she said.

A tree from her garden fell on to her neighbour’s land.

Co-operative Governance spokesman Lennox Mabaso said the department had not received any reports of injuries or deaths. He said rescue operations were put in place immediately to assist those affected.

Mabaso said the hardest-hit areas were Esikhawini and Empangeni.

Yesterday afternoon, two people were rescued from the Umzimkhulu River near Port Shepstone after crossing the river to fish from an island. They were stranded after heavy inland rain brought the river down in flood.

Netcare 911 paramedics and the SAPS search and rescue members and bystanders pulled the men back to safety.

South African Weather Service forecaster Stacey Colborne said the heavy rainfall was caused by a tropical low pressure system that was lying across Botswana.

“With the high pressure system from the south of the country, it caused heavy rainfalls in northern KZN,” she said.

Richards Bay/Empangeni recorded 75mm of rain, while Zululand had 87.2mm of rain.

Other parts of South Africa were also hit hard by the rain.

In Limpopo, three children died in separate incidents when their homes collapsed.

In Mpumalanga, three died when their homes were hit by lightning near Piet Retief.

Also in Mpumalanga, a child was swept away in a flooding river near Tonga, while an elderly woman died when her house collapsed.

The Mercury