Maverick Citizen


Metro strives to prevent dam burst after deadly Nelson Mandela Bay downpours

Metro strives to prevent dam burst after deadly Nelson Mandela Bay downpours
Half of this house in Kariega was swept away by floodwaters. Now home owners fear looting. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

As the weather cleared for a day, the devastation in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) in Nelson Mandela Bay became clear — many roads, houses and businesses suffered extensive damage after a flood on Saturday night.

Hundreds of residents from the Lapland settlement in Nelson Mandela Bay were evacuated on Sunday night after authorities feared an irrigation dam above the settlement had become unstable and was at risk of spilling over or bursting.

“The Nelson Mandela Bay metro wishes to warn residents of a high possibility of a private dam, in a private farm overflowing or bursting on to the nearby informal settlements of Lapland and other surrounding areas,” metro spokesperson Sithembiso Soyaya said.

kariega downpours

The yard of a house damaged on Sunday in Kariega was on Monday, 3 June still strewn with debris swept along by floodwaters. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

kariega deadly downpours

The aftermath of the floods in Kariega. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

“We have evacuated over 200 residents and community members of the surrounding informal settlements; however, some refuse to be evacuated. We shall continue to engage and work with all stakeholders to help manage the situation and protect and save lives.”

Residents told Daily Maverick that they feared their possessions would be stolen.

Below is a video of the dam overflowing at around 1pm on Monday.

“This is an ongoing situation and operation. We thus plead for calm and cooperation during this volatile, uncertain time as we work tirelessly to manage the situation,” Soyaya said.

Devastating floods hit the Kariega area in Nelson Mandela Bay, where more than 200mm of rainfall fell on Saturday night. Six people drowned and a police officer was killed in a car accident linked to flooding.

Below is a video of what the streets of Kariega looked like on Saturday night. 

Below is a video of the flood destroying the Kariega Fire Station.

kariega downpours

Inside the Kariega Fire Station after it was inundated by floodwaters. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Read more in Daily Maverick: Seven confirmed dead after Nelson Mandela Bay downpours, with more rain expected 

Widespread electricity outages hit the metro. Authorities reported on Monday that at least one substation had been washed away in the floods and several electricity poles were down.

Metro police officials were called to provide an armed escort for municipal workers to assess and clear stormwater drains.

Pheello Oliphant, the spokesperson for the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Zolile Williams, said that 2,038 people had been evacuated and housed in 18 shelters.

One resident was missing. Search and rescue operations continued on Monday. 

Williams visited the area on Monday to assess the damage, including a large sinkhole where a taxi filled with passengers became stuck on Saturday night.

kariega downpours

A damaged road in Kariega. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

kariega downpours

A Kariega resident inspects a vehicle that was swept away. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

During a disaster management briefing on Monday, police reported that traffic officials and the metro police were escorting Gift of the Givers teams to ensure their safety while they delivered food, blankets and other aid from a donation drive spearheaded by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

Late on Monday, the South African Weather Service issued another Level 6 warning of more disruptive rain.

Disaster relief

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor Gary van Niekerk said Kariega was the area hardest hit by the floods. 

He said various municipal departments were “compiling a comprehensive report of the damages. As soon as we have that report, we will have a much better idea of the financial losses we suffered. In addition, the cost of the reinstatement of services and infrastructure will also be calculated…

“This will also form the basis for an application to the national government for disaster relief and motivate the declaration of a disaster. Meanwhile, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from external stakeholders. Donations are streaming in from the public for the displaced residents.

“The national and provincial departments of human settlements joined our disaster response efforts to ensure that residents affected by the floods are assisted.”

The South African Social Security Agency also offered assistance and will consider applications for financial relief at the centres where the evacuated are housed. 

“I am confident that all the collaborative efforts will play an important part in ensuring that we cover all areas in our disaster management response,” Van Niekerk said.

The metro launched a recovery fund on Monday afternoon “to provide immediate assistance and support to the individuals and families affected by the recent flood disaster/emergency situation in Kariega and Gqeberha” and called for donations.  

Cut off and displaced

Blue Horizon Bay on the outskirts of the metro remained cut off. A huge mudslide on Saturday night destroyed several houses in the small village.

Jenny Rump from the Zwartskop Conservancy said they feared the floodwaters would be polluted as they had been fighting a battle against the contamination of the river by sewage and industrial pollutants. 

Below is what the Markman and Motherwell Canals looked like over the weekend.

In Buffalo City, the metro said 1,300 people had been displaced by floods. 

Displaced residents have been accommodated in community halls, chalets, old age homes and temporary housing structures in Mdantsane, Braelyn and Mzamomhle.  

Buffalo City also reported widespread outages, with teams attending to 379 faults.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday: “The loss of life, destruction of public infrastructure and the loss of personal property brought about by the forces of nature saddens all of us as South Africans.

“The aftermath of these occurrences is best overcome when we work together in the way we see in the Eastern Cape.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    It would havebeen interesting to see the major dam levels surrounding the whole Metro area given the issues these lastfew years.

  • jwicht says:

    “Metro strives to prevent dam burst” – Really? Where is the story?
    Meaningless sensationalist headline.

  • A Rosebank Ratepayer says:

    I wonder why there is so much damage which never appears to have happened before, particularly of formal buildings and roads? Be useful for the DM journalists to enquire whether:
    1. buildings were located ignoring dam break lines and/or flood lines;
    2. There was much bigger than usual rainfall events;
    3. Stormwater infrastructure had not been maintained and was blocked as appeared to be the case in the recent widespread flood damage in KZN.
    4. Whether there was widespread flood damage in the past?
    (Trust no one is going to ask me to do my own research as happened with a similar recent post 😄)

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