Maverick Citizen

FLOOD DISASTER

Death toll 22 after Nelson Mandela Bay and KZN storm havoc, flood misery hits Western Cape

Death toll 22 after Nelson Mandela Bay and KZN storm havoc, flood misery hits Western Cape
The aftermath of the floods on Taylor Street, central Kariega. (Photo: Joseph Chirume)

With the death toll from the Eastern Cape disaster now at 10, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday ordered that temporary accommodation be found for hundreds of displaced residents in Kariega while emergency housing is being built for them. In KwaZulu-Natal, 12 people died when hail, flooding, snow and two tornadoes wreaked havoc across several regions, while Western Cape floods caused chaos from Cape Town to the Garden Route.

The death toll from the Nelson Mandela Bay floods last week has risen to 10 after the police teams found two more bodies as flood waters subsided.

Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the victims had either drowned or died in the flood since 2 June.

KwaNobuhle, Kariega, Walmer, Blue Horizon Bay and Kamesh in the metro all flooded after a heavy cloudburst saw about 200mm of rain in the region in a night. 

Naidu said the bodies of four people were found by the police search-and-rescue teams in KwaNobuhle and one in each of Kamesh, Kabega Park, Chatty and Walmer. Two were found in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) which bore the brunt of the storm. 

The most recent drowning victim was found on Sunday on the banks of the Swartkops River.

“The victim went missing together with a friend when their car was washed away in Kariega,” Naidu said. “The vehicle was also found submerged.”

Two people had not yet been accounted for and the search for them would continue.

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

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Kariega in the bitter cold on Friday, where he promised that adequate temporary housing would be provided for flood victims within the next 30 days.

Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said that within 24 hours residents would be relocated to student accommodation facilities on buses secured by the provincial transport department, while temporary residential units were being built within 30 days. Those willing to move had been moved on Sunday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in Kariega on Friday. (Photo: Supplied)

“All we need to do as a government is to help our people and we will do that. We have lost lives and we will assist in helping the affected families. We are grateful that we have our churches and other non-governmental organisations, including the Gift of the Givers, that continue to assist us during these times of distress. We are sincerely sorry to the affected communities, the damage has been quite extensive, it runs into billions of rands,” Ramaphosa said. “When we assess the damage we assess that it might even be R5-billion to R6-billion. It was an act of God. Bridges, factories, dams, roads and your houses have been damaged. These are the effects of climate change – we should not be having 230mm of rain in two hours. We have never had so much rain in two hours when everything is washed away.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Shelters swamped by displaced people after deadly downpours in Nelson Mandela Bay

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Gary van Niekerk announced that he would be temporarily moving his office to the Kariega Town Hall to ensure affected residents receive all the necessary support.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson Mamela Ndamase said firemen and lifeguards employed by the municipality were helping the police look for the missing people.

The metro’s Disaster Management head, Thomas Cameron, said the metro’s Fire and Emergency Services and lifeguards joined the National Sea Rescue Institute, Emergency Medical Services and Coastal Water Rescue in intensified search efforts that continued on Sunday.

He said 575 residents had been moved from halls and churches and were now accommodated at lodges and in student accommodation. More were expected to be moved to newly identified facilities from Sunday.

Residents wait to hear from President Cyril Ramaphosa in Kariega. (Photo: Supplied)

Affected residents had been allocated across six facilities so far.

“Our human settlements teams have been working tirelessly to ensure affected residents are placed in adequate facilities. There are four facilities used in Kariega and two in Gqeberha. We are aware that other residents from Kariega opted to return to their shacks. This is because accommodation was identified in Gqeberha so that option was too far for them. But we have not given up on placing them in adequate accommodation, so our teams are still on the ground identifying more facilities and we will engage the communities again.

“We are faced with a moving target when it comes to the numbers. Just when we think we are done with a certain area, we get information that more people have come and need to be relocated. Sassa and relief organisations are still providing food to the relocated residents and the joint operations centre is still active.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Metro strives to prevent dam burst after deadly Nelson Mandela Bay downpours

Meanwhile, following the flooding of the N2 highway in Gqeberha by very high tides caused by storm surges, Mbulelo Peterson, the South African National Roads Agency’s (Sanral) southern region manager, said they are looking at additional measures to mitigate against harsh weather conditions presented by climate change.

Their goal was to ensure that “our road infrastructure is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions”.

“The high tides resulted in rocks and stones being washed onto the N2, which our Routine Road Maintenance (RRM) team worked through the night to clear. Other than this, there was no significant damage to the N2 section under the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality,” he added.

Teams work on infrastructure damage in Kariega. (Photo: Supplied)

Peterson said Gqeberha is the only place in the Eastern Cape where the N2 runs next to the shoreline.

“Sanral has contracted routine road maintenance teams across all our networks to ensure that our roads are kept in a pristine state, as well as to be on standby to attend to any emergencies that might arise on our roads. We are proud of our RRM contractor, consultant and their teams for going the extra mile to ensure the public’s safety on the Sanral network,” he said.

Teams had to clear the road at about 2am daily after high tide.

Peterson added that the damage to Sanral’s managed infrastructure in the Kariega floods was minimal. 

“The mudslides along the N2 in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and the rock debris on the N2 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality did not result in any significant damage.”

KwaZulu-Natal 

The hail, flooding, snow and two tornadoes that hit KwaZulu-Natal last week wreaked havoc across several regions, with Tongaat in the eThekwini Municipality being the hardest hit. Other affected districts include Ilembe, King Cetshwayo, Amajuba, Umzinyathi and Umkhanyakude. 

Twelve people in the province died in the storms and more than 7,000 households were damaged, affecting more than 17,000 people. More than 1,200 homeless families were receiving humanitarian aid from the government across the province. Eighteen schools were damaged. Disaster teams were continuing with assessments to establish the total cost of the damages.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fatalities rise as hail, flooding, snow, two tornadoes, heavy rainfall and high winds hit SA

On Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Siboniso Mngadi told Daily Maverick, “Our death toll is unlikely to change because we didn’t have missing people. We had those that were hospitalised, but they are doing well in hospital [and] some have already been discharged.”

Western Cape

cape town flood

Heavy rains caused havoc in Lwandle informal settlement in Strand, Cape Town, on 6 June 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach). Multiple roads were closed in and around informal settlements around the Western Cape due to flooding following heavy rains. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Floods hit parts of the Western Cape, from Cape Town to the Garden Route. Authorities reported that 41 informal settlements in the Cape Town metro alone were affected and an estimated 9,000 residents were affected by the downpours that wreaked havoc in Masiphumelele, Bloekombos and Khayelitsha.  

cape town flood

A flooded area of Lwandle informal settlement in Strand, Cape Town, on 6 June 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

western cape flood

A flooded area of Lwandle informal settlement in Strand, Cape Town, on 6 June 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Rowena van Wyk of the Western Cape Department of Local Government said they were assessing the impacts of the floods and had received preliminary damage reports from sector departments and municipalities.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Road collapses, evacuations and rescues — floods in Western Cape wreak havoc

Van Wyk said the department was, in collaboration with Stellenbosch University, conducting debriefing sessions of the June 2023, September 2023 and April 2024 flooding events, which would set out the lessons learnt and disaster risk reduction initiatives. DM

 

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