KZN counts storm cost

Mil­lions in dam­ages as res­i­dents be­gin clean­ing up scenes of chaos and de­struc­tion

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - KERUSHUN PILLAY, SISEKELO KHUMALO and NOKUTHULA KHANYILE

DUR­BAN yes­ter­day awoke to ne­ver­be­fore­scenes of chaos and de­struc­tion.

Collapsed build­ings and walls, enor­mous sink­holes on roads, mas­sive power out­ages, blocked stormwa­ter drains and sewer lines, flooded build­ings and house­holds, and a sea of mud and de­bris were left for au­thor­i­ties to confront in the af­ter­math of Tues­day’s mon­ster storm which has claimed at least 11 lives thus far.

Grateful to be alive, Lungile Gumede (52) re­counted the ter­ri­fy­ing or­deal she faced as the del­uge and strong winds reached her home.

The door of Gumede’s low­ly­ing in­for­mal house on Yeni Yeni Road in Um­lazi’s D sec­tion was jammed shut as wa­ter flooded in through ev­ery opening.

“I thought I was going to die inside. The wa­ter had filled up and was sit­ting just be­low my nose. I was fear­ing the worst and I was scream­ing for help.”

Her screams alerted her son, Samkelo (27), who was out­side at the time.

“I tried to first pull her out of the win­dow, but she was too big. Then I picked up a ham­mer and smashed the door.”

The two then im­me­di­ately ran to higher ground, leav­ing all their pos­ses­sions be­hind.

The fam­ily, which in­cludes Gumede’s other son, Siyabonga (12), spent yes­ter­day try­ing to re­cover some of their pos­ses­sions and clean their home with the help of neigh­bours.

“I came home from school and saw the win­dows cracked and the fridge and other stuff ly­ing on the floor and I started crying,” Siyabonga said.

“The school clothes I was wear­ing are the only dry clothes I have now.”

Gumede said: “We have noth­ing. To­day we had to sur­vive with bread given to us by a neigh­bour.”

Not far from that home, Fer­nando Fer­reira, who lives with his wife in an in­for­mal house built on a flood­plain which leads to the Mfon­gosi River, said he also watched help­lessly as his be­long­ings flowed out of his flooded house.

“We heard a re­ally strong wind, then sud­denly wa­ter rushed in. We ran for our lives to a neigh­bour’s house.”

He said all their be­long­ings van­ished in the flood, in­clud­ing their ID docu­ ments.

The flood­plain be­low their house was clogged up with hun­dreds of plas­tic bot­tles, branches and pieces of lit­ter which were washed down from higher ground.

Um­lazi’s D sec­tion was one of the worst hit ar­eas.

Ar­eas south of Dur­ban like Isipingo and Amanz­im­toti also bore the brunt of the storm.

Parts of Um­geni Road and the Dur­ban har­bour sus­tained ma­jor dam­age and wa­ter­log­ging.

Res­i­dents were seen try­ing to clean up their homes in af­fected ar­eas yes­ter­day morn­ing.

eThek­wini staff worked to re­move fallen trees which flanked South Coast Road, the R102 and roads in the Um­bilo area.

Busi­ness­man Tony Ou­tar said he watched in hor­ror as goods and tools floated out of his shop in Isipingo.

Ou­tar, who owns a bot­tle store, work­shop and car deal­er­ship all next to each other, said: “I got in at about 8.30 am and im­me­di­ately wa­ter started flow­ing into the shop in waves. I saw cars be­ing lifted up and float­ing off.”

Ou­tar said he saw one car float as far as the rail­way track across the road.

While tak­ing cover in a restau­rant he also owns above the three shops, he said he saw the pave­ment out­side the shop cave in be­cause of the heavy rain.

“We watched help­lessly as my stuff floated out. The place was like a sea.”

Ou­tar and his staff were yes­ter­day clear­ing mud and wa­ter from the shops. He sus­pected there was R1 mil­lion in dam­age done, and said it would take weeks to get his shops run­ning again.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment could not pro­vide the full as­sess­ment of the dam­age yes­ter­day, but es­ti­mated it was worth mil­lions of rands.

At least 11 peo­ple died dur­ing the storm, ac­cord­ing to pro­vin­cial po­lice.

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Pedes­tri­ans walk around a mas­sive sink­hole on Phila Nd­wandwe Road in Isipingo after Tues­day’s storm.

ABOVE: Xolani Mavundla in Um­lazi D Sec­tion looks at the dam­age after Tues­day’s storm.

BE­LOW, LEFT: Tony Ou­tar (left) and Ashie Ou­tar as­sess the dam­age at their shop in Isipingo. The brown line on the wall is where the flood wa­ters came up to.

BE­LOW, RIGHT: A se­cu­rity guard sits near over­turned ship­ping con­tain­ers at Ocean Africa Con­tainer Lines on the South Coast road. PHO­TOS: IAN CARBUTT

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