KZN floods: We are trying to live and progress but then these floods happen and everything is taken away from us again

Scared it is going to rain again

Sandra Manikam with her belongings

Published Jan 21, 2024


Forty-four families living in semi-detached homes at Pension Cottages in Plein Street, Tongaat, had to evacuate their homes during Saturday night’s heavy rain.

All the homes, which comprise a bedroom and kitchen, were flooded and residents belongings were destroyed.

Sandra Manikam, a resident, said fear gripped her as she watched a wave of water hit her son’s car and come gushing into her home.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Manikam, 61, a pensioner, shares her home with her son Riccardo, 38, who is employed at the local toll.

“I went to bed just after 9.30pm. My son was in the house watching a movie on his phone. I received a call from my neighbour who informed me that their house was flooding. As I woke up, I heard the heavy rain and I alerted my son. He went outside to check on his car and I stood in the kitchen looking outside the window. The next thing I saw was this big wave of water coming towards the car. I screamed for Riccardo to get back into the house, which he did.”

She said the wave went over the car and then hit her home.

“Water began filling our house from underneath the door. It was filling in quickly and within seconds, it was below my knee. Suddenly the electricity went off. We were using the torch on our cellphones to look around. My son told me to climb onto my bed. After a few minutes, I got off the bed to check the water levels and it was still rising. I was scared but tried to remain calm.”

Manikam said her nephew came to her home to help them.

“He grabbed my hand and led me out of the house. There was absolutely nothing we could do. I watched helplessly as my fridge, washing machine, blankets, shoes and groceries floated away.”

She said she spent the night waiting for the rain to stop.

“This is the third time we were victims of the floods. The first happened in April 2022, then in May 2022. During the April floods we had to leave our home and stay at a local hall. We only returned home after 14 days. We are still recovering from those two floods. In the previous incidents, all my belongings were destroyed and my late husband’s car was damaged. Now this time it is my son’s car. It will not even start.”

Manikam said that during the floods in April 2022 all her kitchen cupboards were destroyed.

“My children gave me some money and I used it to replace the damaged cupboards. The cupboards were completed on Saturday and just hours later were destroyed again. I cannot even explain how I feel. It’s like I have nothing to live for anymore. We are trying to live and progress our lives but then these floods happen and everything is taken away from us again…”

She said it was frustrating.

“We are so scared it is going to rain again. We have not slept since Saturday. Our power is restored but now we don’t have water. It just gets worse. All the homes have been affected. We had a visit from officials from the municipality. We appealed to them to get to the source of the problem and put in measures to ensure this does not happen again. We are so thankful for everyone that has helped us.”

The KwaZulu-Natal International Business Association (Kiba) has stepped in to assist the community.

Omie Singh, the founder of Kiba, said their team visited the area on Sunday and Monday found that sewer and storm-water had flooded the homes.

“For us this is a major health hazard, especially for those who are sick, children and the elderly in the community. Through sponsors, we managed to distribute 44 hampers with detergent and cleaning items for the families.”

Abed Karrim, of the Al Imdaad Foundation, said their disaster response team in Durban had been on the ground assisting residents in Tongaat and Stanger, among other affected areas.

“We have distributed blankets and hygiene packs and water. On Tuesday, the foundation had sent out tankers to the affected areas,” he said.


Related Topics: