CLEAN-UP continues

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Mopping-up operations continued in earnest along all major roads and low-level areas of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast yesterday where the death toll from last week's devastating torrential rainfall rose to 13.

The latest victim is an Indian foreign national, Sankaara Chetty, who died after an uprooted tree fell into his flat, trapping him and killing him instantly.

A provincial disaster task team led by MEC for local government and housing Mike Mabuyakhulu has already undertaken a visit to the area to meet all victims to assess the damage and decide whether or not to declare the place a disaster area.

Several rural areas remained cut off from the main towns because roads and bridges have been washed away. Mabuyakhulu ordered medical and other supplies to be airlifted to these areas.

The coordinator at the disaster management centre in the Ugu district, Victor Chetty, said last Tuesday's 13-hour downpour was the worst since 1959.

The disaster has prompted the district to focus on an early warning plan for the area.

"The district has appointed a consultant to assist in putting in place an early warning mechanism in conjunction with experts in the weather office in case of flooding and natural disasters," he said.

Chetty said the main objective for rescue teams was to relocate the more than 300 homeless people, clean up roads and repair damaged bridges.

"Thanks to the support of the community, the municipality, business and the NGOs, we are now close to our target of relocating the homeless back to their areas. Most are being housed in community and church halls."

The homeless were given tents, blankets, food and clothing and will be relocated well above the flood-line parameters in their areas.

"Most families were living below the flood lines and had their homes swept away by the raging flood. Municipal and rescue workers will make sure they are housed in safer areas until decisions on the building of new homes are taken by the relevant authorities," Chetty said.

He said most roads and bridges in the rural part of the South Coast remained waterlogged and under debris of mud, trees and rocks.

"Two main bridges along the R102 near Hibberdene and Kelso remain closed because of structural damage. Engineers are on site to assess the damage."