More Than 1600 KZN Households Ravaged By Storms And Winds, Says Cogta

More than 1 600 households have been affected by storms and damaging winds across KwaZulu-Natal, with Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding areas being heavily affected, the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Department confirmed yesterday.
As mop-up operations continue this week, Cogta spokesperson Senzelwe Mzila said parts of the province, especially the Midlands, remained vulnerable as the South African Weather Service had issued another warning of severe thunderstorms this week.
Over the past few days, the Midlands area, including Howick and Wartburg, experienced heavy rains and strong winds which uprooted trees, blew off roofs and damaged houses and road and electricity infrastructure.
By yesterday afternoon, Pietermaritzburg residents were holding their breath as another bout of heavy rain, accompanied by hail, was expected to hit the KZN capital, raising fears that more households could be affected by the end of the week.
The joint Rapid Response Team in Pietermaritzburg held a meeting yesterday to get an update on the damage and will hold another meeting today to compile a final report on the number of households affected.
It is estimated that more than 300 households have been affected, but there are fears that the number could rise in the uMgungundlovu district.
Mzila said storm-related damage had been reported across the province in the past few weeks.
“This has affected well over 1 692 households in the form of housing structural damages, injuries, fatalities and drownings,” said Mzila.
He said that while the province had received more than 12 severe weather warnings during the reporting period, uMgungundlovu and Ilembe districts were the most affected.
He said the department had activated all Disaster Operations Centres to monitor incidents and co-ordinate responses to report to the weekly Joint Operations Committees on further interventions required.
It had also provided social relief packages to all municipalities for distribution to the affected households.
Meanwhile power utility Eskom said that its technicians in KZN continued to work on restoring electricity supply to affected customers following damage caused by storms last month.
The storms left about 1 360 customers without electricity supply, it said.
Affected areas included Obanjeni, Ensingweni, Emoyeni, Samugu, Ntokozweni, Mvutshini, Maphumulo, Ensungwini, Ekunqobeni, Ngudwini, Sundumbili, Dokodweni, Sundumbili and Kwa Khoza.
Eskom said that while its technical teams were attending to the outages as a matter of urgency, incessant rain had made it difficult to access certain areas.
“Currently, the estimated restoration time cannot be confirmed; however, restoration efforts continue.
“Customers who have received a message that their electricity supply has been restored, but still have no electricity, are encouraged to report another fault as it could be isolated incidents,” said Eskom.
Electricity users have been urged to treat all electrical lines, sockets and appliances as live.