A total of six (6) lives have been lost across Umkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo, Umzinyathi and Amajuba districts as they have been the biggest casualties from the latest torrential rains that have been received over the past few days. Two (2) people are reported as missing at this stage.
Assessments indicate that 139 homes were destroyed and 158 were partially damaged by the storms. The disaster management teams are still continuing with assessments as different areas continue to receive more rain while the ground is already saturated with water.
In terms of public infrastructure, roads and bridges across the province have been most affected. This includes both gravel and black-top roads.
We extend our condolences once more to the families of Nokulunga Mchunu, 22, and Thulani Mabaso, 52, both in Danhausser, Thobile Innocentia Hadebe, 39, in eNdumeni, Skhulile Msweli, 25, in Mtubatuba, Lindani Dlamini, 17, in Jozini, and the family of the three-month-old infant in Newcastle.
Nkonzo Moses Buthelezi, 37, and Ms Nomathemba Caroline Buthelezi, 42, both from the eNdumeni Local Municipality in Dundee, were swept away while attempting to cross a flooded river. Disaster management personnel are still conducting search operations.
The total cost of the damages is still being compiled by working together with various organs of the state. The President’s proclamation of a state of national disaster will allow affected institutions to reprioritize their finances in order to better respond to the immediate issues presented by the devastation caused by heavy rains.
We would like to thank social partners for their continued assistance, which has allowed affected communities to get prompt aid.
The department continues to engage all stakeholders in a bid to look for long-term solutions to spatial planning-related issues that have resulted in recurring incidents in some of the areas.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an end in sight, as the South African Weather Service has warned that the rains are set to continue throughout the summer season.
We cannot emphasize enough the need for communities to remain on high alert during this time in order to prevent further loss of lives and damage to property.
We continue to plead with everyone to take the weather-related warnings seriously and exercise the necessary precautions as follows:
• Do not try to cross flooded rivers, whether by car or on foot.
• Stay away from river banks.
• To those with homes along river banks, do not wait for the river to overflow before seeking safer shelter.
• Share the weather-related warnings amongst the communities, including with school-going children.
• Do not drive when it is not safe to do so; rather wait for the rain to subside before continuing with your travel.
• Do water-proof your yard by making channels for the water to pass through.