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KZN dam levels low despite heavy rains

  Monday, 09 May 2016
 Bernadette Wolhuter and Zainul Dawood (Daily News)
KZN dam levels low despite heavy rains

Torrential rains in KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend saw four areas break May downpour records for a 24-hour period, the South African Weather Services said. Photo Credit: Motshwari Mofokeng, Independent Media

"While KwaZulu-Natal mops up and counts the cost of the downpours at the weekend that caused deaths, landslides and flooding, the rain has made no significant impact on the dam levels in the province."

On Monday, Umgeni Water spokesperson, Shami Harichunder, told the Daily News more rain was needed to make an impact. This was despite the heavy rainfall levels reported throughout Durban.

Harichunder said water restrictions were still in place and added that the Hazelmere Dam water level increased by 2% in 48 hours after an estimated 100mm of rainfall.

The dam level was at 44% capacity. The Midmar Dam level was 45.72%, Albert Falls Dam 33% and Inanda Dam 76% full. Harichunder said most of the rainfall was over the greater Durban area.

“The dams on the south coast also did not see a significant increase. Inland Dams such Mooi River and Ixopo were also not impacted by the rainfall,” he explained.

On Monday morning, Weather SA forecaster, Julius Mahlangu, said in Durban south this weekend, there was a total rainfall of 206.2mm; in Virginia 205.6mm; in Mount Edgcombe 107.6mm, and in Mtunzini 210.8mm.

Flooding and landslides resulted in at least six fatalities. The deluge in Durban kept emergency workers on their toes, with eThekwini Emergency Services receiving 76 calls by 2pm on Sunday.

At the Johanna Road Informal Settlement, in Sea Cow Lake, a 4-year-old boy was stuck underneath rubble for nearly four hours.

Local councillor, Deochand Ganesh, who was at the scene, said the youngster was lucky to be alive.

“This informal settlement is built on a steep slope. The heavy rains led to the ground becoming unstable,” said Ganesh.

Chris Botha of Netcare911 said paramedics and fire services had to cut through wire before they were able to dig through the stones to get to the child.

Sadly, 1-year-old Mondli Madlala died after he was trapped for more than an hour under a heap of sand at the Emhlabeni informal settlement in uMlazi.

His uncle, Mlungisi Madlala, told the Daily News’s sister newspaper, Isolezwe, that his nephew was trapped after their shack collapsed.

“His mother was sleeping when this incident occurred.

She woke up around 4am after hearing a loud bang. “She checked on her children, Mondli and Samke, and panicked when she couldn’t find Mondli.”

“We had to use our hands to dig out his body from a heap of sand,” Madlala said.

In uMlazi early on Sunday, a wall collapsed in an informal dwelling. After a search by emergency services, one man survived the collapse and was taken to hospital.

Tragedy also struck in Chatsworth, when flash floods left two dead and two missing, presumed drowned.

The four, including three elderly women and a 4-year-old child, were washed away while trying to cross a bridge in Raffia Road, Crossmoor, in the early hours of Saturday.

They were on their way home from a night-time church service.

The Umhlali K9 Search and Rescue and Durban Search and Rescue units braved the relentless downpour and an overflowing river to scour the area, but there was no sign of the missing. The search was called off until first light.

Police managed to recover the body of one woman, wedged in debris about 2km downstream.

Police dog, Lea, found a second body underwater and buried beneath dense bush.

Officers continued their search through the weekend and were joined by the Pietermaritzburg Search and Rescue unit on Sunday.

The two people found were identified as Xolisile Mbanjwa, 17, and Nomvula Miya, 28.

A body was also found floating in Durban Harbour on Sunday Durban Search and Rescue recovered the body from near R-shed.

Municipal spokesperson, Thulani Mbatha, reported that a 5-year-old boy died in Raffia Road, Chatsworth.

He said more than 300 people were displaced at the weekend because of the flooding and that by Sunday night, emergency services personnel had recorded structural damage to 85 houses in the Durban area.

Meanwhile, residents living close to the Isipingo River mouth saved their homes by breaching the sandbank connecting the Isipingo lagoon, to the ocean.

The sandbank prevented the water from leaving the lagoon, flooding pavements and roads.

Isipingo resident, Robert Manjoo, said there was a strong possibility of the homes being flooded by the rising water levels.

“Residents made several calls to the metro emergency line, but only one metro police vehicle arrived.

“With time running out, residents took spades and dug out part of the sandbank which allowed the water to flow out,” said Manjoo.

A video posted by Gulsher Khan showed thousands of litres of water from the breach flowing into the sea.

A number of families in informal settlements of uMlazi and a transit camp in Isipingo were evacuate.

Other areas affected by the floods included Mariannhill, Dassenhoek near Pinetown, and Bonella, Lamontville and Reservoir Hills.

RescueTech KZN’s communications officer, Nic Holmes, confirmed a section of the floating bridge finishing stretch of the sani2c mountain bike race in Scottburgh was swept out to sea.

The lagoon burst and the floating bridge broke loose on Saturday night, he said.

Rescue workers worked to recover the floating pieces on Sunday but it had been “completely destroyed”, Holmes said.

Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said she dispatched disaster management personnel to various flood-hit areas across the province.

“Our teams are on the ground providing all forms of emergency support that may be required by residents,” said Dube-Ncube.

 

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