Maverick Citizen

DISASTER

Two dead, four missing as destructive floods lash Nelson Mandela Bay

Two dead, four missing as destructive floods lash Nelson Mandela Bay
Streets flood in several suburbs of Kariega (Uitenhage) in Nelson Mandela Bay on 1 June 2024, as 200mm of rain fell in the area. (Photo: Supplied)

Two people drowned, four are still missing and about 70 have been rescued as disaster management teams and the NSRI worked through the night to help people displaced by heavy rain in Nelson Mandela Bay and East London. About 200mm fell in some parts of the district on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

A man and a baby girl drowned, four women are missing and about 70 people had to be rescued in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) as parts of the town were hit by flash floods after about 200mm of rain fell in the area on Saturday. Hundreds have been displaced.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon added: “At least up to 70 persons have been safely removed to various mustering points in 55 rescue operations.” Rescue operations were ongoing.

The SA Police Service, police divers, police K9 Search and Rescue, Fire and Rescue Services, Relay ambulance services, NSRI stations 6 Gqeberha, 36 Oyster Bay and 37 Jeffreys Bay, Coastal Water Rescue, Eastern Cape government health EMS, local security companies and residents had been deployed together with the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in search-and-rescue operations throughout the flood-ravaged area on Sunday.

Lambinon said their teams were activated during heavy rain at about 11pm on Saturday. 

Security camera footage showing the Kruisriver in flood. (Photo: Supplied)

Floodwater swept away vehicles. (Photo: Supplied)

floods

Floodwater causing havoc. (Photo: Supplied)

“In one incident at around 3am, a SMHART security officer reported a vehicle with six persons trapped in the flooded Brak River, Rocklands. One man was recovered safely from an island that had formed in the river, an adult female had been swept away and is missing, and the remaining four of these six people were recovered safely on the southern side of the river.”

A number of rescue operations had recovered people safely from buildings, residences and vehicles.

The fire station at Kariega was flooded and extensively damaged.

At the Port of Port Elizabeth, NSRI Gqeberha, in cooperation with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Port of Port Elizabeth Port Control, was assessing reports of vessels breaking their moorings.

In East London, NSRI East London, in cooperation with the TNPA Port of East London Port Control, was assisting on the Buffalo River after several jetties sank or were washed away and boats broke their moorings.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman of disaster relief group Gift of the Givers said on Sunday morning that the Buffalo City mayor and Disaster Management, Nelson Mandela Bay Fire Station and Disaster Management, and Kariega Disaster Management have been in communication with the group from Saturday night and in the early hours of Sunday to help. 

“Infrastructure damage, loss of life, missing and injured people, a fire station submerged, vehicles washed away, multiple areas affected in these regions and the Baakens River in danger of bursting its banks with major risk to low-lying houses are the immediate challenges,” he said.

Cars left piled up by floodwater. (Photo: Supplied)

Gift of the Givers had the full support of Eastern Cape police commissioner, General Lillian Mene, and General Vuyisile Ncata, the head of SAPS command in Gqeberha. 

“Denise van Huyssteen, CEO of NMB Business Chamber, has offered all possible assistance, and so have corporate companies. Gift of the Givers teams in East London and Gqeberha will be supported by team members from Cape Town, George and Adelaide, who have emergency supplies already being loaded at these centres, while additional items will be procured locally. If needed, support from the head office in Pietermaritzburg will be dispatched. We are busy arranging warehousing in the various centres.”

The metro was also hit with extensive power outages in 21 areas, with teams battling to affect repairs owing to ongoing severe weather.

Nelson Mandela Bay metro spokesperson Sithembiso Soyaya said several roads are closed in the metro. Residents of Blue Horizon Bay had been cut off from their access road.

In Kariega, six major access roads had been closed. In Kwanobuhle, a part of ⁠Matanzima Road had collapsed. A taxi had fallen into the collapsed section and the occupants had to be rescued.

“Emergency services have been working throughout the night and are still working and searching to assist people affected by the flooding,” Soyaya said.

Henry Landsdowne from Disaster Management in Nelson Mandela Bay said there was severe flooding in Kariega throughout the night.

“Several rescue efforts were conducted. Reports from the South African Weather Service are that the current conditions will continue, with more heavy rains expected into the evening,” Landsdowne added. He issued a warning to those in low-lying areas to be careful.

The head of the metro police in Nelson Mandela Bay, Andrew Moses, said their officers were working tirelessly. 

“There is flooding in Kariega. Roads are dangerous to pass,” Moses said.

These included the major R75 road and the Graaff-Reinet Road. He asked the public not to try to cross waterlogged roads.

Mayoral committee member for community safety Stag Mitchell said the fire station in Kariega was heavily damaged, and search-and-rescue teams were still looking for missing people. 

Mitchell said one man was rescued from a tree and admitted to hospital.

Local weatherman Garth Sampson said the Kariega weather station measured 226mm of rain. 

The Buffalo City Metro said its disaster management centre too was activated last night. 

The South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning for level 6 disruptive rain from 1pm on Saturday, 1 June 2024 until Sunday night for the East London area. The metro also closed all its beaches due to rough sea conditions.

“Buffalo City has been experiencing heavy rain and downpours, resulting in infrastructure damages, including informal and formal houses situated in low-lying areas. The heavy rains have also caused flash floods that have overwhelmed the city’s stormwater drainage systems, also resulting in blockage of major roads such as Settlers Way, Biko Bride from Westbank to East London CBD, Cambridge Cemetery, Duncan Village, CC Loyd Township, Parkridge and Canary Park, just to mention a few,” the City said. 

“An initial damage assessment has been conducted by Disaster Management Service, and the City’s Infrastructure, Traffic, Fire & Rescue Services have been instrumental in unblocking and clearing blockages.” DM

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