#DurbanStorm leaves trail of destruction

A fire engine couldn't get through a section of Lena Ahrens Road, where a tree fell over, blocking most of the road.

TUESDAYS major storm that lashed Durban and surrounds has left a trail of destruction in its wake and caused major flooding, toppled trees, cut power supplies, damaged homes and buildings. In the aftermath of the storm which affected large areas of the province, 11 people have reportedly been killed and five are believed to be missing.

Locally, a toilet wall collapsed in the Durban CBD killing one person and in the Bayhead area, a former police officer was crushed to death when a container fell on his car.

Speaking to Berea Mail at Windermere Centre on Tuesday during the height the torrential downpour, shoppers expressed their shock at the ferocity of the storm.

Kerry Steyn said she had heard that classrooms at George Campbell had flooded and at Glenwood High School, learners had been moved into the school hall. Many schools sent learners home early.

“It’s crazy, I don’t know whether I should stay here or get into the car, I can’t drive anywhere!” she said.

Patricia Johnson, who had walked to the centre before the weather turned, said she had no choice but to wait it out.

“It’s shocking! It happened so suddenly. I feel anxious being here when my flat might be flooding,” she said.

A former navy man, Trevor Ellis, said he didn’t mind the weather too much, as he had seen worse while in the navy. “I wonder if I should take a chance and drive to the Stamford Hill Bowling Club to have a beer. I don’t think it would be the best idea though,” he laughed.

Harris Packiri, who was standing outside the centre watching the rain with a group of people, said the weather was preventing people from going about their normal activities. “The rain has uprooted trees and washed away bins. I have lived in Durban all my life and have never seen weather like this,” he said.


Appeals for help

As the storm abated on Tuesday afternoon appeals for help flooded the city’s Disaster Management call centre. Social media sites quickly filled with requests for help and Durban communities rallied. The principal of Happy Hearts Daycare in Holmes Road, Glenwood, Kristi Salt, offered shelter to anyone in need at her home and at the school where kitchen and bathroom facilities were also available. Her husband, Matt, took bedding, food and lighting to St Martin’s Children’s Home in Clark Road, which was flooded during the deluge. Happy Hearts is also a collection point for donations for the home.

Kristi also made soup which was collected and delivered to various venues where the need was great, like the Moth Cottages. where there was no electricity.

Ishara Poodhun, principal of St Martin’s Children Home, said the rain had come flooding down Ebor Road into the premises.

The first floor of St Martin’s Children’s Home flooded during the storm.

“It looked like an ocean outside! Our first floor was flooded and we had to move all the children upstairs. We hope there isn’t another downpour like this,” she said.

Ishara said the home was in need of items such as bedding and torches.

Residents at informal settlements were hard hit. Most have lost the meagre possessions they have as shacks were flooded and some completely destroyed. Appeals are being made for bedding, clothing, food and building materials.


Storm causes power outages in some parts of Durban

Large parts of eThekwini Municipality’s electricity network, including Glenwood, were severely affected by the heavy rain which caused widespread tripping on the network.

On Tuesday afternoon, the municipality reported a number of affected areas had been remotely restored on alternate feeds.

“Mondi, Sapref, Waterfall and Gyles Substations were among those affected on the high voltage network but electricity is now back on. This means that these networks are operating at risk and could be without power for extended periods should these circuits experience further faults. There were over 500 faults reported, many of which affected large areas.”


Mop-up operations at harbour

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), working with the Transnet National Ports Authority in the emergency response operations within the Port of Durban on Tuesday, will continue to monitor Durban’s and the coastal weather and sea conditions.

Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi, said: “Our principal officer from SAMSA Durban office, Captain Hopewell Mkhize together with the Port of Durban Harbour Master, Captain Alex Miya convened a Joint Operations Committee which managed the emergency response operations.Five container ships in total were affected. We will continue monitoring weather conditions along the coast and monitor the situation in Durban for the next 48 hours.”


Damage at local hospitals

KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo reported that the flooding waters had not only claimed lives, but had caused enormous damage to infrastructure at local hospitals in the eThekwini District.

The roof of the dental block at Addington Hospital was damaged, the administration block at St Aidan’s was flooded as well as certain wards and the entrance to the hospital.

Flooding occurred at King Edward Hospital while at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, drains flooded and computers at King Dinuzulu Hospital were disrupted.

Dhlomo, along with KwaZulu-Natal MECs of Human Settlements, Education, the Acting MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, together with the eThekwini Mayor visited hospitals affected by the storms on Wednesday.


Durban Chamber collection point

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry said businesses in Durban had reported extensive damage to property and loss of productivity with crippling effects on an already depressed economic environment.

While Durban businesses are working hard to stabilise their business operations after the storm, they remain committed to the vision of the Durban Chamber – “in business for a better world” and to this end the chamber is collecting any contributions from business towards the most vulnerable communities worst hit by the storm. Food, clothing and building supplies are desperately required.

The drop-off point is at the Durban Chamber offices, Lion Match Office Park, 892 Umgeni Road.



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Lauren Walford

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