Durban – Mother nature played havoc in KwaZulu-Natal today (10 October) as a fierce storm pummelled parts of the province, with Isipingo and parts of Chatsworth badly hit.
Thousands of motorists were stranded in their vehicles or in knee high water, homes were flooded and trees uprooted.
By time of publication, at least two people were confirmed to have died.
According to Garrith Jamieson of Rescue Care a container had fallen onto a vehicle from a truck in Rotterdam in the Bayhead area, killing the motorist.
With wind speeds of about 70km/h, most of KwaZulu-Natal had come to a standstill and the KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) was coordinating relief efforts.
The storm had caused major damage to hospitals, factories, homes and other key infrastructure, the department said.
Two wards at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital were evacuated because of flooding.
Hours earlier, parts of Gauteng had felt the brunt of the storm.
Schools, businesses and malls, especially in Durban south, had to close due because of flooding.
Across the city, emergency crews, private security firms, volunteers and ordinary citizens risked their own lives to save others.
Motorist Dan Nayager said it was worst weather he could remember.
“I got caught in Durban. I was just driving on to the Southern Freeway and two large trees snapped in front of me, I avoided and drove on to Madon Road through Sidney then Umbilo into Malvern. It was a drive of my life… avoided over 20 falling trees and blockages. Got to the road leading to my place and it was cut off by major flooded stream. Caught in the flooded stream was a Nissan Z sports car,” Nayager told POST.
“I could not leave. I drove a few roads around and came to the front of the road and offered my assistance. I couldn’t leave this person or persons under these circumstances. Just then a tip truck came and offered to tow the car out but had no tow rope. I had one handy and we completed the rescue. The driver was very relieved and thankful. It was humanity in motion.”
To ensure their safety, the staff at Kamalinee Primary School, in Lotus Park, Isipingo, had to move pupils to higher level classrooms.
Brahmanand Outar, who owns a car sales company in Isipingo, lost four vehicles due to the flood.
“We are already in a lower lying area, so we’ve been hit the hardest. Four of my cars were washed into the stream. We can’t even walk outside. There is a lot of damage. Everything is being washed away.”
Medical representative Ravin Persad was returning to work in Phoenix when he was caught in the storm in Prospecton.
“I knew we were expecting a storm but I never expected this. I’m stuck on the bridge and overlooking the N2, which is water logged,” said Persad, who was driving a 4×4.
“The smaller cars have taken a real battering. Many of the drivers suffered mechanical faults and I and a few other motorists had to help.”
Newlands West resident Indhran Manickum, who works at a local church, said locals were seriously affected by the heavy wind and rains. “Many people are trapped on the roads due to the heavy volume of rains,” he said. “We have just finished praying for everyone.”
Shaun Hammond and the team from the Silverglen Self Help Committee assisted a motorist whose car had washed away and another on whose car a tree had fallen.
Vincent Chetty, of the Clare Estate Action Committee, said: “O’ Flatherty Road has been flooded and is a no go area. We hope the rain does not wreak havoc in the nearby informal settlements.”
Werner Vermaak, of ER24, said there was flooding at several roads in eManzimtoti and a mud slide near Doonside.
He said paramedics responded to several calls for assistance.
This included containers that fell from a truck onto a vehicle near Rotterdam Road in Bayhead, a family that was trapped inside their home when it flooded, an ambulance that overturned leaving two medical crew injured on the N2 in Umgababa, and two taxis that collided in Magabeni.
The eThekwini Municipality had sent out an urgent warning during the storm asking that residents stay indoors.
Meanwhile, Cogta warned that the extreme levels of rainfall experienced on Tuesday would be followed by a cold front which is expected to reach KZN by the weekend.