Mop-up begins after Amanzimtoti ‘supercell thunderstorm’

Toti CBD. PHOTO: Andre Beetge

Amanzimtoti residents began moping up operations after Tuesday’s nightmare storm, which battered the greater Durban area with winds of more than 70km/h.

The SA Weather Service said the ‘supercell thunderstorm’, which is the most intense form of a storm characterised by a deep rotating updraft associated with tornadoes, large hail, strong winds and flash flooding, had moved from Gauteng on Monday to KZN and the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.

According to the website www.dbnrain.co.za, Isipingo recorded 93.6mm of rain on Tuesday, while the Bluff was slightly less at 74.8mm and Island View received a mammoth 174.6mm. A St Winifreds resident said their neighbour recorded 160mm.

According to ward 97 councillor Andre Beetge, the first reports of uprooted trees started at about 7.25am, followed by the CBD which was confirmed as flooded within the hour.

READ ALSO: #DurbanStorm wreaks havoc at Amanzimtoti SPCA

By 9.15am the water was level with the top of the platforms at Amanzimtoti railway station. Lifesavers from the beaches arrived soon afterwards and used a jetski and rubber duck to evacuate the CBD.

Flow from Old Main, Adams and Fynn roads along the channel into Kingfisher Road and Isundu Drive changed what is normally a small stream into a roaring 20-metre wide river, which carried away walls, curbing and tar to the point of totally flooding and rendering the Isundu Road pump station underwater.

Parks department staff at Pipeline Beach found themselves cut off and unable to assist with complaints when part of the embankment below Inyoni Rocks Road washed down across the street. A tractor loader backhoe (TLB) was hastily dispatched to open the road.

READ ALSO: Four drown in Isipingo during #DurbanStorm

Despite the Amanzimtoti River mouth being open, the huge volume of water pushed back into the stormwater drains, leaving employees of Steven Stationers with mere minutes to escape via Civic Road under the N2. However they had no passage along Isundu towards Adams after a huge strelitzia blocked their path across the road and Isundu remained flooded.

With the CBD along Kingsway flooded, it was only after a municipal tree cutting team managed to open Isundu Road that residential traffic flow between the south and north of town could be re-established.

As many as 31 trees or large branches either completely or partially obscured passage along Old Main, Umdoni, Dan Pienaar, Frost, York, Gwen, Comer, Bernadotte, Isundu, Adams, Beach, Ipahla, St Boniface Maze, Akker and many other streets across the larger Amanzimtoti area.

A call for assistance was answered by Jacques the Treefeller and Grant from Jack’s Tree Felling who personally took charge of cutting and removing trees in time and with least disruption to school traffic.

Subway Road by the hoot bridge. PHOTO: Andre Beetge

Kuswag Lane intersection with Umdoni was again deeply flooded, necessitating emergency evacuation across Kingsway High’s sport fields. Several parents opted to leave their vehicles at the school and arranged alternative transport from across the railway bridge in Bernadotte Street.

The Little Amanzimtoti River, which is usually a three to five-metre broad stream that curls lazily down towards Baggies Beach, erupted into a 50-metre wide mass, taking everything in its way and ripping away the beach into a 100m wide river mouth.

Rosslyn Road. PHOTO: Andre Beetge

The sewage reticulation project off Almond Road into roads such as Santa Alberto, Bon Aventura and Good Hope roads, where asphalt was already removed to expose bare soil, was turned into deep mud ruts that were virtually impassable with a normal vehicle.

An already damaged road surface in Good Hope saw residents cut off from the opposite side of the road. They were forced to leave their vehicles until the roads department arrived to effect temporary repairs.

All properties along stormwater gullies, run-offs, channels and rivers were negatively affected as even unpiped and unrestricted open runs could not cope with the water volume, resulting in lower-lying properties like Auto Rust Control and residential properties in Elcock Road being flooded by a river washing everything towards the beach.

Commuters on the N2 found roads flooded and vehicles submerged as water from the flashflood swept across the freeway, trapping many within their vehicles near Prospecton and the old airport.

The Little Amanzimtoti River. PHOTO: Andre Beetge

The informal settlement along Ernest Clokie Road at Dakota Beach had to be evacuated when electrical cables broke and fell into the water between informal dwellings.

“It was only as a result of close co-ordination with the parks, roads, electricity beach management departments, and volunteers from the private sector that we were able to open roads and assist with infrastructure failures within record time,” said Cllr Beetge.

“As clean-ups and damage assessments continue across the entire city, we again remind residents that the sheer volume of calls could result in the call centres being incapacitated.

Likewise the waiting time to report incidents will be delayed because of the volumes and as such, we recommend they use landlines to take advantage of the toll-free system to report outages, as opposed to using cellphones.
The municipality can only react if it is aware of a problem and reaction time is also calculated from the time of reporting, not from the time that the incident occurred.

Electrical call centre 080-131-3111, engineering call centre 080-131-3013 and emergency services 031-361-0000.

 

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  AUTHOR
Earl Baillache
Journalist

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