Severe weather conditions the new normal

Flooding in Alpine Road Durban.

MANY areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal came to a standstill yesterday when devastating hailstorms, torrential rain and strong winds tore off roofs, flooded roads, smashed windows and cars, uprooted trees and walls.

And there was snow!

According to the SA Snow Report, sections of Sani Pass were closed while Tiffendell Ski Resort was blanketed in snow. Snow was also reported in Underberg and the southern Drakensberg.

According to ClimateWise, a coalition of global insurers, brokers and industry service providers, weather-related catastrophes such as floods, windstorms and droughts have increased by 600 per cent since the 1950s, and have cost the world economy $170bn in 2016 alone, five times more than the 1980s and taking huge leap up from the $103billion in losses recorded in 2015.

Closer to home flood events in 2016 racked up losses of R700m in insured losses, while the recent Knysna fires and Cape Town storms in June clocked in at over R4 billion in damages.

The general consensus from meteorologists is that climate change is having a massive impact on property losses, and South Africa should brace for a new normal of abnormally heavy rain and hail storms, powerful winds and drought conditions in many regions.


The Palmiet River:

Palmiet river flooding

Posted by Cay Hickson on Tuesday, 10 October 2017



Hospitals affected

KZN MECs and eThekwini mayor,  Zandile Gumede will inspect the damage caused by yesterday’s (10 October) storm and torrential rains that wreaked havoc along the coast.

Their first stop will be King Edward Hospital followed by a visit to Prince Mshiyeni Hospital where two patients died after a wall collapsed, bringing the KZN storm death toll to seven.

The KZN Health Department said in a statement yesterday at least five hospitals have been adversely affected by the heavy rains: King Edward, Addington, King Dinuzulu and Wentworth and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals have borne the most brunt of the storm.

Management at these health facilities are currently assessing the extent of the damage caused by the storm, and are doing all they can to ensure patient care and safety.



Paramedics and other emergency services personnel were kept busy. Severe flooding of roads occurred in Amanzimtoti, N2 between Amanzimtoti and M7 Bluff, a mud slide near Doonside and several other roads have been closed off. Paramedics were alerted of several vehicles that were under water along the N2.

ER24 paramedics have responded to several calls for assistance. Some of the incidents include containers that fell from a truck onto a vehicle near Rotterdam Road in Bayhead, a family was trapped inside their home when it flooded in Barlew Mews, an ambulance overturned leaving two medical crew injured along the N2 in Umgababa, two taxis collided in Magabeni and several other distress calls.

WATCH LATEST VIDEO Blue Security Community Tv received this video from Blue Security staff member on way to work at South coast rd and Sarnia rd offramp Offramp M7This update should also thank our disaster team who have worked relentlessly…some putting in huge hours to restore the city to normality in affected areas where electricity and road access has been affected

Posted by Andreas Mathios on Tuesday, 10 October 2017


“In the wake of the heavy flooding that has affected parts of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday, no damage has been reported to roads and bridges within SANRAL’s jurisdiction,” said  regional manager of South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (Eastern Region).

Contrary to hoax reports, there has been no damage to the Mt Edgecombe Interchange which has been inspected by site engineers and no structures have been found to have collapsed.

ALSO READ: Top 10 tips to stay safe in wet weather

A cut face on the M41 between the Mt Edgecombe Interchange and the new Flanders Drive Interchange (where the new Flanders Drive on-ramp goes onto the M41), collapsed onto the M41, closing part of the M41 East bound. The actual road is, however, intact and will be reopened once the mud debris has been cleared.

No bridges that fall under SANRAL have been reported to have been damaged.

“Only when the rains subside and the flood waters recede will we be able to make a thorough assessment if there has been any damage to roads and bridges.

“The maintenance of the culverts within SANRAL’s jurisdiction is regularly done. After every significant rainfall event – such as today’s storm – culverts are checked and cleared of debris.”

Several roads, including M4 Southbound, Margaret Mncadi Avenue (on-ramp onto M4 south) have been closed. Response team attended to assist those motorists whose cars were stuck in the flooding.

Officials from the Disaster Management Centre are collating all information on infrastructure damage, injuries as well as fatalities.

Clean-up operations will begin as soon as the storm subsides and when the inclement weather has stabilised.


In the harbour

In one of the numerous call-outs yesterday, Netcare 911 and the Fire Department responded to reports that a large shipping container had blown onto the roof of a car outside the Durban harbour.

Reports from the scene allege that during the storm a 40-foot container which was stacked on top of other containers was blown over and landed on the car.

“Paramedics attended to the two occupants of the car. The first man, who was about 30 years old, had sustained relatively minor injuries but was trapped inside the car when the roof collapsed under the weight of the container. He was in a stable condition and was transported by ambulance to hospital for further assessment and care,” said Netcare Limited media liaison, Nick Dollman.

“Tragically the second occupant, believed to be in his 40s, had sustained severe injuries and died at the scene.

“To access the victims, the container first had to be removed from the vehicle and then fire fighters and rescue personnel used the Jaws of Life to free them from the wreck.

“”Several other large and heavy stacked containers in different areas were also blown over by the strong winds.”

The South African Maritime Safety Authority, working with the Transnet National Ports Authority in the emergency response operations within the Port of Durban yesterday (Tuesday), will continue to monitor Durban’s and the coastal weather and sea conditions.

Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi, confirmed together with TNPA, SAMSA provided technical support during the multi-vessel emergency operation.

Tilayi said: “Our principal officer from SAMSA Durban office, Captain Hopewell Mkhize, together with the Port of Durban Harbour Master, Captain Alex Miya, convened a Joint Operations Committee which managed the emergency response operations. Five container ships in total were affected. We will continue monitoring weather conditions along the coast and monitor the situation in Durban for the next 48 hours.”

An emergency meeting was convened at yesterday with Mkhize and Miya to form a joint command and engage on the refloating for the vessels MSC Innes, SM York, Bow Triumph and SA Shipyard floating dock with the new harbour tug.

The meeting also dealt with vessels MSC Susanna and Maritime Newanda that broke moorings and had to be held by harbour tugs to prevent them also running aground.

The vessel, MSC Innes took priority as it blocked the port entrance. It took five tugs to refloat the 330 metre long container vessel and once refloated, she was allocated a berth in the port for damage inspection.

The vessel, Bow Triumph, a 183 metre long product tanker, which was berthed in Island View broke its moorings and ran aground on the sand bank near the Island View Terminal. The vessel was refloated at 4.30pm and it took further effort to clear the anchors which were still stuck. All refloating operations were completed at 5.50pm.

The vessel, MS New York, a 330 metre long container vessel, which ran aground near Maydon Wharf was also refloated successfully and was allocated a berth for damage inspection.

By 7pm, the vessel, MSC Susana, which had earlier broke from its mooring ropes, was secured.

The Maritime Newanda vessel which broke loose was held by tugs and is currently berthed at Maydon Wharf.

The SA Shipyards’ floating dock and new tug remain grounded on bank. It will be attended to in daylight hours.

TNPA reported that there was a straddle carrier which was blown into the water and remains unsecured.

There are also reports that some cranes were derailed by strong winds. Of concern, according to Tilayi, are reports that there were about three containers believed to have been lost into the water with the exact position unknown. These pose a danger to navigation within the vicinity. TNPA confirmed that a search will be conducted in daylight hours.

There were no injuries no pollution reported on all the above incidents. Durban Port was closed due to debris in the water and unknown position of some containers which pose danger to navigation and damages to vessels.



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Michelle Dennis

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