Coast KZN

26 Jul 2016

KZN extreme weather havoc

Bernadette Wolhuter (The Mercury)

Motorists travelling from Kokstad to Matatiele were stranded yesterday morning after trucks jack knifed because of the heavy snow. Photo Credit: Clifford Schoeman

The extreme weather in KwaZulu-Natal intensified on Monday, bringing pounding rain and flash floods to the province.

Disaster teams were placed on standby, and emergency personnel had their hands full.

One of the worst-hit areas was eManzimtoti, with the town’s central business district above the aManzimtoti River badly flooded and cars partly submerged.

Two women had to be rescued from a building in Kingsway in the town centre on Monday afternoon.

ER24 paramedics were alerted to the crisis by local authorities. When they arrived at the building, paramedics found its first floor flooded past waist height.

ER24 paramedics searched the first and second floors, and finally found the two women, who had escaped without serious injury.

Laura Ruth Hampton, who controls eManzimtoti Neighbourhood Watch, said the whole of central eManzimtoti had been flooded.

“My garden has been completely washed away. The power station in Isipingo has been struck by lightning, leaving Isipingo and Athlone Park without electricity,” she said.

In Umhlali, a security guard was looking after farming equipment when flooding began.

He sought higher ground and climbed a tree, but was trapped there for two hours.

IPSS Medical Rescue and the SAPS search and rescue unit were dispatched, IPSS’s Dylan Meyrick said.

The SAPS unit had to use an inflatable raft to rescue the man, who was “very cold but in good condition”.

Elsewhere, an elderly woman was missing on Monday night after the car she was in was one of two washed off a bridge in Silverglen Drive, in Chatsworth.

Another woman, 62-year-old Brenda Lynn Scriven was also missing.

Son-in-law Lee Swales said the family last heard from her when she was on her way home to Sunningdale on Monday afternoon. Her car was later found abandoned in Glen Anil. Swales said they had recovered her phone and valuables.

A man at the scene told Swales that he had found an unidentified man, who had fled upon being confronted, in the car,.

The car was believed to have been swept away in the floods.

Police search and rescue teams, helped by the NSRI, rescued two children who were stranded on a patch of raised land in Umlazi last night.

They also helped two men whose car became trapped in water in Quarry Road, and a man whose car fell into a sinkhole in Booth Road.

There were reports from all over the city of landslides and cars abandoned in the streets.

A retaining wall collapsed in Northumberland Place in Durban North, and there was a report of two walls collapsing in Bonela.

Marshall Security said two women had to be rescued when their cars were caught in floodwaters in La Lucia. There were no injuries.

KwaMashu had been badly affected, according to the eThekwini Municipality. Houses had been flooded and people were being accommodated in the local hall.

Flooding was reported across Durban, including in:

•Central eManzimtoti.
Chris Hani Road in Avoca.
Corobrik Road in Riverhorse Valley.
Rinaldo Road and Harrison Drive in Glen Hills.
Crusaders sports grounds in Durban North.
Quarry Road.
Randles Road in Sydenham.

Meanwhile, in the province’s high-lying areas – including Nottingham Road, Kokstad, Matatiele, Underberg and Giant’s Castle – heavy snow that began on Sunday continued to fall and became heavier on Monday.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Musa Mntambo said guests at the Giant’s Castle resort were stuck there.

There were initially 51 guests and 41 staff members at the resort.

Local police removed some of the snow, and a few guests made their way out by midday, but a number still remained and authorities were advising the public against trying to travel in or out of the area, Mntambo said.

“Fortunately, the resort has enough supplies for close to two weeks,” he said.

Staff and 14 guests at the Sani Mountain Lodge, on the border between South Africa and Lesotho, were also snowed in. Assistant manager Alina Matiba said snow had blown down the path overnight and no one could get in or out of the resort. She expected the weather to clear by Thursday.

Local farmers expressed concern for the well-being of their livestock. Speaking from just outside Nottingham Road, Andrea Jooste said she had to take two young calves inside after they became hypothermic.

She warmed them up beside the fireplace, and then moved them to a shed with their mothers so they could feed, but she said she had hundreds more cattle to worry about.

Kenny Robinson, who farms in Dundee, was preparing to bring in all his sheep on Monday.

He said it was not the snow that caused stock fatalities, but rather the cold wind.

Several roads in the area were closed, including:

The road to Afriski Mountain Resort.
Kingscote cutting, between Underberg and Swartberg.
The R56, between Kokstad and Matatiele.
The R74, between Bergville and Harrismith.
The R617, between Underberg and Boston.
The N3 Toll Concession’s commercial manager, Con Roux, said on Monday morning that the N3 remained open.

On Sunday, snow hunters were out in their numbers and caused traffic chaos, but volumes had decreased on Monday.

More of the same weather has been forecast for today, when the SA Weather Service expects the cut-off low causing the extreme conditions to move slowly southwards, and then south-eastwards.

But conditions are expected to start clearing on Wednesday and on Thursday.

10 safety tips for wet roads

Start gently and slowly to get the feel of the road. Do not rush.
Adjust your turning and braking to road conditions. Turns should be made as gently as possible.
Do not brake harder than is necessary.
Adjust speed and space according to conditions.
Do not overtake unless necessary.
Go slowly and watch far enough ahead to keep a steady speed.
Be mindful of wet brakes.
Avoid driving through deep puddles or flowing water where possible. When driving through deep puddles slow down, select low gear, apply brakes gently and drive through.
When in water maintain light pressure on brakes to heat them up and dry them out.
Make a test stop when safe to do so. When sure no one is following, apply brakes gently to ensure they are working correctly.


Online Article