Durban - Disaster management teams have been activated around the province after gale-force winds left three people injured and buildings damaged.
According to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), teams responded to incidents in Ugu, eThekwini and Ladysmith.
“Interim assessments reveal that roofs were blown off and trees fell over, blocked roads and damaged property and vehicles,” said Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
On Sunday, the department started a clean-up operation.
“We are still assessing the long-term impact of damage to roads, public infrastructure and facilities, as well as private properties, and we continue to offer assistance to all concerned,” she said.
Disaster management was activated in Durban after hundreds of homes were damaged, with Mayor Zandile Gumede convening an urgent meeting with ward councillors, ward committees, community mobilisers, Operation Sukuma Sakhe and traditional leaders.
“We are doing our level best to find alternative accommodation for affected families. We call upon everyone to extend a hand and assist those who are in need,” said Gumede.
“Our team on the ground will provide food, soup and blankets for affected people. Community halls and centres such as crèches will also be used to accommodate displaced people,” she added.
South African Weather Services forecaster Thandiwe Gumede said the winds were caused by a low-pressure system off the coast, which was normal for this time of the year. However, it was a high-pressure system pushing behind it that created the disastrous winds and heavy rains. In some areas, winds blew up to 66 knots (120km/* ).
One of the casualties was the Durban Christian Centre Jesus Dome tent, which was erected after the church building burnt down in June last year.
At the time, head pastor John Torrens said it would take 42 months to complete the refurbishment of the 20-year-old church in Mayville.
In the meantime, a 2 500-capacity tent had been pitched in the parking lot.
Torrens was at the tent site in the immediate aftermath of the collapse on Saturday night and, in a Facebook video, he assured congregants that the three Sunday services would continue at their Family Life Centre. “We’re making do with what we can... We have managed to get most of the equipment out, but a lot of it is still pinned underneath the tent and it’s pretty unstable right now.”
At the port, a crane collapsed and other infrastructure was damaged at the ship repair dock in Bayhead.
Electricity in some areas on the North and South Coasts, Midlands, Underberg, Vryheid and Hluhluwe was cut off.
Eskom spokesperson Joyce Zingoni said they were working around the clock to determine the extent of the damage and restore the lines back to service for customers.
By Sunday afternoon, supply to about 14 900 households had been restored, while about 25 000 customers were still without power.
The gusting winds hit King Shaka International Airport at about 60 knots (111km/* ). However, airport spokesperson Colin Naidoo said there were no major incidents.
“We had some signs damaged and slight damage to the roof of the parking building, but that was easily repaired. There were no major delays to flights due to the weather conditions here, but serious weather conditions elsewhere in the country are having a ripple effect in flights arriving in Durban. No operations were affected,” he said.