South Africa

DEADLY FLOODS

Full extent of KZN storm damage still unknown as death toll rises

A family of four were killed after a mudslide destroyed their home in Clare Estate Reservoir Hills informal settlement, Durban, during the storm on 22 April 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim.

The death toll from the flash floods in KwaZulu-Natal has officially risen to 67, with rescue teams still active in the province. The province’s Co-operative Governance Department held a media briefing on Thursday 25 April to provide an update on the extent of the damage caused.

The eThekwini municipality has once again been in the eye of the recent storm, recording the highest death toll,” said Nomusa Dube-Ncube, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).

The president, as well as the premier, have indicated that we are in a time of mourning.”

KwaZulu-Natal MEC Cooperative Governance Department Nomusa Dube-Ncube and eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede provided an update on the KZN floods at Coastlands Hotel, Durban on 25 April 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim.

The heavy rainfall and subsequent flash floods throughout KZN on Monday 22 April has claimed the lives of 67 people, Dube-Ncube said at a media briefing on Thursday 25 April at Coastlands Hotel, Durban.

The KZN toll tallies only deaths verified by the South African Police Services (SAPS) and does not include the seven people who died in floods in the Eastern Cape.

The storm, coupled with a collapsed church and road accidents over the Easter weekend, brings the death toll in KZN for the past week to 85, according to provincial officials.

Several mass funerals, attended by various government officials, were held on Thursday. These funerals took place in uLundi, uMhlathuze, uMlalazi, and uMngeni, and involved 13 families across all the areas.

There are active search and rescue teams operating at Tshelimyama, Mega Philani Bridge and Silverglen, where it is believed a person may have drowned in the Inanda Dam.

Several homes were destroyed and a family of four were killed after a storm caused a mudslide in the Clare Estate Reservoir Hills informal settlement on 22 April 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim.

The total damage caused by the storm is still being assessed. COGTA is planning to present a report to the provincial executive council on Friday 26 April.

These floods have inflicted untold damage on public and private infrastructure and we have sent out teams to commence with the quantification of the damages,” said Dube-Ncube. “This includes visits to households and all sites that have been affected.”

Displaced families are being provided with relief, including food packages, feeding schemes and school uniforms.

Temporary shelter is also being provided by the eThekwini municipality in 11 community halls, with others seeking refuge in neighbours’ homes or other community spaces which have opened to provide relief.

Bereaved families are being provided with counselling and the government is arranging for support to be provided in order “to ensure decent burials of the departed”.

Dube-Ncube warned that there would be “another ripple effect” as a result of the cyclone approaching Mozambique.

Several homes were destroyed and a family of four were killed after a storm caused a mudslide in the Clare Estate Reservoir Hills informal settlement on 22 April 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim.

She said all institutions would “work together to ensure that we minimise the destruction to infrastructure, we minimise the loss of lives and we do everything possible to be of service to our communities”.

Mayor of eThekwini Zandile Gumede, asked if improperly serviced infrastructure and drainage systems had contributed to the damage, said:

The issue of drainage system — I don’t think it’s the cause of what happened,” Gumede responded. “It’s nature, that’s why.”

Details for donations

People who want to help flood victims may send donations to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) offices at Mkondeni, Pietermaritzburg and to KZN COGTA Mayville offices in Durban. A bank account for donations has been set up by KZN COGTA. Details:

ABSA, KZN COGTA DISASTER FUND 2019, Account number 409 633 4685.

Have plans for the 2019 Elections been affected by the floods?

We’re still assessing; we keep getting information as and when it happens because some areas were not affected immediately during the flash floods, but afterwards infrastructure started crumbling,” said Mtomb’futhi Masinga, KZN acting electoral officer for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

It is unclear how many of the 4,885 voting stations in KZN have been affected by the floods. However, even if structures are damaged, voting station locations will not change.

We definitely cannot change voting stations because they’ve now been gazetted and publicised, so people know where they are,” Masinga told Daily Maverick.

Residents of the Clare Estate Reservoir Hills informal settlement whose homes were destroyed during the floods in Durban wait for food parcels being delivered by the IFP on 24 April 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim

Instead, the IEC is looking for alternative ways to use venues allocated as voting stations. As an example, Masinga said that if the main hall in a school was damaged, the voting station may move to a classroom.

If there are still walls standing, we will continue using that (a building) because changing a voting station is quite a process,” said Masinga.

In instances where the voting station is no longer stable or has been completely destroyed, the IEC will set up a tent at a nearby location to serve as a voting station. This will prevent people from having to travel extra distances in order to get to another voting station.

The IEC will be using steel-framed tents in 2019, which had already been planned for 115 voting stations. The tents are sturdier than those previously used, some of which were blown away by strong winds in 2016.

Provisions are also in place for those who have been displaced by the floods. People who are no longer staying in their registered voting district can go to any voting station in the province where they are registered. They will be required to sign an affidavit before being provided with ballots for both national and provincial elections. DM

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