Clean-up operations under way after devastating storms

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Mop-up operations continued in south and north KwaZulu-Natal yesterday after heavy rains and strong winds battered the coast, displacing hundreds of people at the weekend.

The storm was the fifth to lash the province in the past two months. A recent hailstorm devastated the Molweni area, leaving 10 people dead in its wake.

Yesterday the Abaqulusi municipality in the north of the province declared the eMondlo area a disaster zone. A 14-year-old boy died after being struck against the head by a flying sheet of corrugated iron on Saturday. Scores of residents were injured by flying debris.

Victims have been provided with tents and food parcels.

"We are forwarding the declaration to the MEC," said mayor George Dlamini. "The assessment so far is that the damage is very big, though we don't have final figures yet."

Yesterday the Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang visited the storm-ravaged areas in Umgababa on the South Coast, where more than 200 homes were destroyed on Saturday night.

The province has dispatched disaster management teams to the areas, where victims are housed in temporary shelters.

Provincial local government spokesman Lennox Mabaso said yesterday that the recent storms had cost the province "billions".

"We cannot at this stage put an exact figure to the damage." he said. "But we can assure the public that homes will be rebuilt and we are working as fast as we can to assist those affected.

"In some areas homes were completely destroyed, while in others partial damage to the structures was recorded.

"In some instances individuals were privately insured and they have been duly assisted."

He said the government's first line of support was to remove people from dangerous areas and place them in safe temporary shelters.

Food parcels were also handed to those left homeless.