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Storms wreak havoc in town - again

By Canaan Mdletshe | Dec 14, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Hundreds of families have been left homeless after heavy rains accompanied by hail the size of golf balls and strong winds wreaked havoc in Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

This is the second storm to hit the area in less than a week. Last week about 300 homes were flattened in similar storms.

Acting Newcastle mayor Velaphi Masina said about 600 families were left destitute in Friday's storm.

Roofs were blown away, trees uprooted and livestock destroyed in the storm that lasted several minutes.

"It's a real disaster. People have been left with nothing. It is still difficult to say what the extent of the damage is and what it will cost, but it certainly runs into millions of rands," Masina said.

He said the municipality, with the help of the district, had provided tents and food parcels to the victims.

"This is a temporary solution. We are compiling a report on the exact damage for MEC for local government Nomusa Dube," Masina said.

He said the weather patterns were unusual for the area. The fact that it had been ravaged twice in seven days was a worry. "We are lucky that no one was injured or killed. We appeal to NGOs and business people to assist the victims."

Alfred Ndlovu, from the Bicka area, which is between Madadeni and Osizweni, described the storm as something he "had never seen before" and would "never forget".

He said: "One minute I was in my shack and the next the storm blew away the roof and I was left standing in the open rain. Luckily no one was injured. But the damage is severe. Many of us are left with what we are wearing."

KwaZulu-Natal has been hardest hit by storms lately. Within a month, the provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs has spent R348million to assist communities ravaged by the storms.

The storms left a trail of destruction of property and infrastructure, claiming eight lives last month alone.

The storms lashed the inland town at the weekend as heads of state, ministers and environmentalists from around the world were meeting at a UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.


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