Four people have been confirmed dead and more than one hundred people left homeless following floods that rocked Durban on Tuesday afternoon.
While initially it was reported that a tornado had struck Inanda, the South African Weather Service said the phenomena was actually a landspout.
In a statement the South African Weather Services (SAWS) said that on first impression, landspouts and tornadoes do look very similar.
“Both phenomena manifest themselves as a dark, spinning vortex or tube extending from the base of a cloud. Both phenomena have the capacity to cause wind damage, as we witnessed,” the SAWS said.
“Tornadoes typically cause damage across a much greater range of the EF scale; from EF0 (minor damage) right up to EF5 (catastrophic damage), whilst wind damage due to landspouts or waterspouts tends to be much less severe."
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) said it had assessed the damages that had devastated parts of the province which included Durban Metro and Ugu District on the KZN South Coast.
AREAS HIT HARDEST:
The areas severely affected by the heavy rains and strong winds were Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Pinetown and surrounding areas, Folweni, and the north of Durban.
In the Ugu District, the hardest-hit areas were Umzumbe, Umdoni, and Umuziwabantu.
COGTA spokesperson Siboniso Mngadi said preliminary reports indicated extensive damage to road infrastructure, electricity, sewer systems, and housing.
“Many houses suffered roof damage, collapsed walls, and flooding. Regrettably, so far four people have been confirmed to have lost their lives. Three casualties were reported in the eThekwini Metro, while one person remains missing,” Mngadi said.
“Additionally, one fatality and four injuries were reported in the Ugu District Municipality.”
Mngadi said houses in eThekwini Metro bore the brunt of the devastation.
“There were approximately 70 houses completely destroyed and a further 110 houses partially damaged,” Mngadi said.
“This has affected a total of 552 people, leaving 151 individuals homeless.”
The Department said in the Ugu District Municipality, one house was left completely destroyed while three others suffered partial damages affecting 29 people.
“One person was left homeless.”
A total on 10 schools were damaged in the Pinetown area alone.
“Schools have been significantly impacted by the adverse weather conditions,” said Mngadi adding that further assessments are under way in the affected districts to determine the full extent of the damage.
AGRICULTURE and BEACHES:
“The agricultural sector has also suffered losses, with four gardens in Inanda wards 51, 54, and 55 affected. Additionally, approximately 700 chicken broilers in Inanda were adversely affected,” said Mngadi.
While Durban has bore the brunt of beaches being opened and closed, Mngadi said beaches may be temporary closed again.
“The environmental impact of the heavy rains has resulted in pollution at Blue Lagoon Beach in Durban, caused by debris from the Umgeni River. The Department, in partnership with eThekwini, is facilitating the cleaning of the beach, which may temporarily lead to its closure. ”
No reports have been received thus far regarding the affected business sector.
The Department said together with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, has provided immediate relief of over 300 food parcels, 2750 blankets, 5500 plastic sheetings, and 550 emergency boxes (Box B) as part of the winter contingency planning across all districts and the metro.
“The Provincial Disaster Management Centre maintains additional immediate relief materials to offer further support,” Mngadi said.
“Community-based structures, such as Ward Committees, Community Development Workers (CDWs), Traditional Leaders, and OSS War Rooms, have been activated and play a crucial role in disseminating weather forecast awareness messages through loud hailing to mitigate severe impacts. Mop-up campaigns are being coordinated with municipalities to clean the affected areas promptly.”
Eskom and departments like South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development (DSD) have also been activated to work with municipal disaster management teams.
“Social workers are on standby, ready to provide psycho-social support services, social welfare assistance, and child protection services.”
Mngadi together with other Departments are currently conducting assessments to determine the magnitude of the damages and identify necessary interventions.
“The mobilisation of additional volunteers through community-based structures is underway to reach all affected communities for damage assessments.”