Chisom Jenniffer Okoye
3 minute read
10 Feb 2020
6:00 am

Gauteng floods take heavy toll on residents, infrastructure

Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Images on social media showed flooded corridors at Helen Joseph Hospital along with scenes of water flowing across the parking lot and entry points.

Flooding at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg. Picture: Screenshot

At least three people are believed to have lost their lives across Gauteng, in addition to the “surprise” flooding of the Helen Joseph Hospital, after the heavy downpours this past weekend.

The heavy rain, which led to localised flooding, affected several areas across Gauteng, particularly in Johannesburg, leaving several people destitute. Three people reportedly lost their lives.

City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Servides spokesperson Nana Radebe said the municipality had responded to two cases, including an eight-year-old girl who was washed away by the floods in Mlangeni.

She said they were now attending to the second case of an ongoing search in Douglasdale where a person was said to have gone missing near a bridge.

Radebe went on to say “several shacks in informal settlements and homes in Soweto were affected as well”.

The City of Johannesburg’s council speaker Nonceba Molwele took to social media to announce that temporary shelters had been given to people who were destitute at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto.

In addition to affected infrastructure, the Helen Joseph Hospital came as a surprise for DA’s Shadow Health MEC in Gauteng, Jack Bloom who said he had received numerous complaints about the state of the building “for some time now” but never expected this to happen.

On Saturday, several people took to social media to share horrific imagery of people walking through ankle deep water, and patients sitting with their feet on chairs to avoid being wet.

The images also showed flooded corridors along with scenes of water flowing across the parking lot and entry points.

According to Kwara Kekana “the flooding at Helen Joseph was contained as early as 10.30am (on Saturday)”.

“The accident and emergency unit was affected, the preliminary indication of the cause of the flooding is the blocked drainage system.

“There was minimum interruption of services and the team at Helen Joseph Hospital was able to deal with the flooding in the unit.”

Bloom noted that it was very unusual that a long-established building like the Helen Joseph Hospital would have issues of flooding in its premises. He said to his memory, it had never happened before even with the heavy downpours last year.

“I have been worried about the management of the hospital. For a while, I have been receiving complaints about poor maintenance and the state of the toilets. The building needs to be revamped and repaired. They need to establish why it happened this time around and make sure that it is in good shape,” he said.

He added that in the given “unfortunate” situation, “the hospital did what they could” to fix the immediate problem.

During a visit to the emergency unit at the Helen Joseph Hospital by The Citizen yesterday, nurses confirmed that there were no major disruptions and all the patients were safe.

“I was not here yesterday during the floods but from what I have seen today, everything is fine,” said one nurse who did not want to be named.

She said the rain that flooded the drop-off zone of the emergency unit was mopped away by the teams deployed by the department of health (DoH).

She added that the (DoH) had informed the hospital’s workers that it was working with the department of infrastructural development to ensure there was minimum interruption of services.

– jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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