Coast KZN

28 Jul 2016

Water restrictions still in place despite the rain

Judi Davis (South Coast Herald)

The rather expensive berm buffer has now been washed away by the raging Mzimkhulu River.

There is still a need for people to use water wisely.

Water, water everywhere, but there still might not be enough to ‘drink’ freely. Ugu is playing it safe for the time being and has not called off water restrictions, in spite of this week’s heavy rains that caused havoc in many areas.

Our dams still have a way to go before they fill up.

However, the dispersing storm clouds yesterday  morning were a welcome sight as the South Coast took stock of the damage inflicted by high winds and three days of torrential rain.
The weatherman threw everything at the battered South Coast.

On Sunday afternoon temperatures plummeted as snow fell in Kokstad and other parts of the province.

Then the rain began in earnest. Some 48 hours later, Margate Airport tower reported that 300mm of rain had drenched the South Coast.

At times, the heavy rain was accompanied by high winds, surging up to 45 knots (about 38km per hour) on the Monday night. The rain and wind were accompanied by constant thunder and lightning, adding to that ‘doomsday’ feeling.

Early on Tuesday morning, South Coast Herald reporters were out and about, recording the chaos on camera. Buildings were damaged, with the metal roof blown completely off one block of flats in St Michael’s.

Signage up and down the coast took a real battering.

The golf course and parts of the clubhouse at Port Shepstone Country Club were flooded once again, this time the situation possibly aggravated by the berm upstream of the Mzimkhulu River being washed away.

Costing R3,7-million, the berm was built late last year to prevent seawater pushing upstream and contaminating the coast’s drinking water.

That problem still rankles months later and now it’s back to square one.

The heavy rains caused many South Coast rivers to flood and burst their banks. However, little has reached our dams and the fresh water has just muddied the sea.

The waterfall at Uvongo beach turned into a spectacular and much-photographed torrent. All the beaches the reporters visited had taken a severe beating from storm surf and were covered with flood debris.

In some places, it looked like the South Coast had experienced a blizzard with wind-whipped foam turning the shoreline snowy white. Even on Wednesday morning the sea still looked like a giant washing machine.

The wind gave vegetation a good shake-up too and thick layers of leaves, twigs and branches carpeted roads, pathways and lawns.

Extreme weather always means round the clock work for emergency workers. For Hibiscus Coast Municipality rescue staff, the start of the week was hectic.

On Tuesday morning municipal spokesman Simon April reported that the fire and disaster team had responded to 15 incidents in 24 hours.

Seven houses in Wards 20, 22 and 23 were flooded and the municipality was providing affected families with emergency relief.
Municipal crews were still clearing fallen trees obstructing roads.

The extreme weather also played havoc with basic services. Ugu District Municipality spokesman France Zama said water and sanitation systems had come under severe strain because of pipe breaks, flooding of the waterworks and high volumes in the sewer systems.

Water supply was interrupted at times in Bobhoyi, Murchison, Gamalakhe, KwaMadlala, Nyandezulu, Bhomela and between Hibberdene and Ramsgate due to technical faults. Mr Zama said technicians were working around the clock to restore services and asked customers to be patient.

The severe storms also caused electricity outages, according to Eskom. Residents in Kokstad were among about 19 000 people in high-lying areas in the province who were left in the dark on Sunday night when snow caused faults on the networks.

Compounding the problems were the road closures that prevented Eskom workers from repairing the breaks.
On the South Coast, it was the heavy rain that caused problems with power supply with more than 14 000 customers in this area affected. Eskom is currently isolating damaged infrastructure.

Customers were advised to treat all installations as ‘live’ for safety reasons. Report all faults to 08600 37566 OR SMS at 084 655 5778, 082 941 3707 and 083 647 1951.