Durban - Hundreds of people have been accommodated at the Ladysmith indoor sports centre after being evacuated from their homes due to flood waters that covered the Ladysmith central business district in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Klip River burst its banks on Thursday flooding lower parts of the town in the Alfred Duma Local Municipality. The SA Weather Service forecasts partly cloudy conditions for Ladysmith area until Wednesday.
On Monday, the K9 Search and Rescue teams from Pietermaritzburg and Ladysmith used rubber boats to evacuate people who lived in homes or flats above or behind stores in the CBD.
The premises of uThukela District Municipality ground level offices were also flooded, disrupting municipal services.
Municipality spokesperson Jabulani Mkhonza said they have begun pumping water out of affected homes, evacuation of homes and providing sandbags to residents. Mkhonza said city management was assessing the impact of the flooding.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka deployed disaster management teams to commence with the evacuation of residents in the town of Ladysmith and Msinga.
Hlomuka said that 70 residents were evacuated from the flooded areas in Ladysmith.
In the town of Msinga, heavy rains caused the uThukela River to burst its banks and flood surrounding areas. Disaster management teams evacuated residents to safer places, such as community halls.
Non-profit humanitarian aid relief organisation, the Al-Imdaad Foundation, said much of the road networks in the CBD were still water-logged due to the large volumes of water that have entered various parts of the town. The foundation reported that water levels at the holding dam were 8 metres down from a high of 8.5m on Sunday.
The foundation assisted in the provision of rubber dinghies for the evacuation.
About 89 people were evacuated from low-lying areas and settled in the indoor sports complex on the outskirts of Ladysmith.
The foundation stated that the displaced families were given basic needs including hot meals, hygiene kits, mattresses, blankets, baby food, etc.
“Currently many of the storm-water drains are blocked which is pushing water back into residential areas. Sewerage water has also been pushed out creating a potential health hazard. Once the flood waters in the river system lowers, water from the roads and CBD will start to recede and proper clean-ups and assessments can be performed. We will then have a clearer picture of the type of assistance needed going forward.”
Videos on social media by local news media and images of the streets in Ladysmith highlighted the tragedy that the town and businesses face.
A video captured by the Ladysmith Herald showed the SAPS K9 Search and Rescue from Pietermaritzburg and Ladysmith rescue an 8 months old baby and his family, who needed to be evacuated from their home on Queen Street on Monday. The family were in waist-deep water.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala declared a state of disaster in parts of the province affected by storms and flash floods in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
Zikalala said a report revealed that the storms which besieged most parts of the province recently left a trail of destruction affecting homes, schools, roads and other critical infrastructure.
According to incidents logged with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre during the festive season over the period November-December 2021 and January 2022, there were approximately 205 incidents of strong winds, lightning, structural fires, heavy rains, hailstorm, structural collapse including 16 drownings in KZN.
This inclement weather affected 2 068 households and people. At least 773 houses were totally destroyed, and 2 095 houses were partially destroyed. Twenty five people lost their lives as a result of lightning and drowning incidents and one person was still missing.
The report estimates that it will cost R3.3 billion to repair the damages.