Picture: Lizéll Muller

Kimberley - Mopping up operations got under way in Kimberley on Monday after Sunday night’s storm pelted the city with heavy rain, while strong winds ripped off roofs and uprooted trees.

More than 38.6mm of rain was recorded at the Kimberley Airport, although no accurate wind speeds could be recorded after the sensor at the weather office was damaged in another storm that hit the city earlier in the afternoon.

It is believed though that the wind was gusting at speeds of up to 58 kilometres per hour.

Although the storm impacted on the entire Kimberley, one area particularly hard-hit was Klisserville, where more than five houses were damaged in Ashe and Bowen streets.

Several gates and walls were blown over, roof sheets ripped off, parts of houses destroyed and trees uprooted by the strong winds. Shocked residents in the area stood around helplessly yesterday as they tried to take stock of the damage caused.

“The storm was unbelievable. All we saw was the tree falling on top of the fence, which cut the electricity supply to the area,” one resident said.

He added that the street was without electricity for over an hour and although they tried contacting the municipality’s disaster management section, they were unsuccessful.

The roof of the One Life Family Church in the area was also ripped off and parts of the building damaged, while several shacks in Diamond Park were flooded.

Shacks were also ripped apart by the strong winds while several roads were still blocked on Monday by trees that were uprooted.

Cars also fell victim to the storm, with one floating in the notorious Hull Street subway.

In Jan Cilliers Street in Kestellhof a wall blew over, damaging several cars parked in the carport.

Tinus Pretorius from the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s Disaster Management Section said around 15 calls were received from residents following the storm.

“Most of the calls were in connection with trees that had fallen on roofs, road closures due to high water levels and trees that prevented traffic flow.”

He said that while they assisted where possible with trees blocking the flow of traffic, it was not their responsibility to clean the city as this fell under the municipality’s Parks and Garden section.

He added that more calls were received yesterday from councillors from various areas, who reported damaged shacks.

Emily Chabaf, from Diamond Park, said yesterday that her entire shack was destroyed by the storm.

“I was sitting with my children when the storm started building up and my whole shack was shaking in the wind.” She added that when she went outside to see what was happening, she realised that her roof had been blown off.

“We ran to the neighbours for shelter until the storm had blown over.”

The storm water drainage system in Greenpoint as well as Diamond Park were blocked by garbage and the huge volume of water was unable to drain away, resulting in many areas and houses being flooded.

Several residents lashed out at the lack of response from disaster management in Kimberley.

According to Kevin Aaron, who was stuck with other motorists outside the Anglican church in Greenpoint, they tried to contact the disaster management section, but “no one was answering in the control room and the number was just ringing”.

He said there were elderly people in the church who were severely traumatised. “They were just praying for help.”

Other residents added their voices, complaining about the lack of response from the disaster management. “Their response time was very slow. What will happen if there is a real disaster in Kimberley,” some of them asked.

On the positive side, Johan Van Rensburg, from Agri-Northern Cape, said farmers welcomed the rain but added that even more was needed to restore the veld after the recent fires.

“We are praying for more rain but it is sad that so many people sustained damage during Sunday evening’s storm.”

Municipal spokesman, Sello Matsie, confirmed that several reports had been received regarding storm damage around the city. “We apologise if calls were not answered but the control room was extremely busy with reports of damage coming in.”

He added that while they responded to several calls, most of them in connection with trees that were blocking roads, no reports of injuries or death were received.” Our Parks and Gardens Section will continue with mop-up operations in the city this week.”

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