Torrential rains leave path of destruction through Eastern Cape

Human settlements MEC Siphokazi Lusithi has promised to build 227 temporary structures for flood victims.

Torrential rains have left a path of devastation through the Eastern Cape. The body of a sixyear-old has been recovered, but the child’s mother and four-year-old sister are still missing after devastating floods swept through Coffee Bay on Saturday.

Two boys, aged five and seven, are also presumed drowned after they were washed away while crossing a stream with their mother and sister.

Rescue workers are also still looking for a 24-year-old woman from Mapuzi, who was washed away when her house in the village was flooded.

ALSO READ: Floods: Limpopo elderly man and family spent five days between moving waters

On Sunday, Zimkhita Macingwane, a spokesperson for the OR Tambo Disaster and Risk Management team, said they were still on site to lend support and assess the damage of the flooding.

Komani hit by flooding

Still recovering from flooding earlier in February, that forced the closure of several businesses, Komani was this weekend again hit by flooding, which claimed the life of a woman who was swept away by the current on Saturday morning. Much of the town was submerged and many roads were closed.

Informal settlements, roads, low-lying areas and bridges were severely affected in Thulandivile, Silvertown and Queen Industria.

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson MK Ndamase said the body of a woman had been recovered on Saturday, after she had been swept away by the river in the early hours of Saturday morning. He said her body had been identified by her family.

Areas throughout the district were affected by flooding. More bridges collapsed in the Emalahleni Local Municipality area, around Lady Frere.

The Gift of the Givers teams were handing out food, blankets, mattresses and hygiene items to families displaced by the floods, said the organisation’s Corene Conradie. She said they were helping people who were staying in shelters, but were also trying to assist those refusing to evacuate their homes.

“We are aware of Coffee Bay and other areas. As soon as funding comes in we will go help there,” she said.

They were also rushing to assist a village whose source of drinking water was contaminated by flood waters.

ALSO READ: Hundreds evacuated as Komani battered by floods

“There are a lot of children who need our help,” Conradie said. “We really need baby items.”

On the Cathcart side of Komani, big businesses – Pick n Pay, KFC, Builders Express, McDonald’s, Jacksons Delta, Queens Casino and Hotel and the Queenstown Life Private Hospital – were all flooded. While McDonald’s, the casino and hotel and the hospital were still closed due to the earlier floods, this weekend’s flooding caused even more damage.

Businesses affected

On Saturday, when Daily Maverick visited the businesses, fences from the casino and McDonald’s had been swept away and water was still being pumped from the hospital and the casino.

Chris Hani District Municipality spokesperson Bulelwa Ganyaza said Friday night’s heavy rains in Komani left most crossings submerged.

“Two cars were swept away by the strong current along Owen and Sprigg Streets into the river in the early hours of Saturday. Rescue teams managed to save two occupants, while one was reportedly missing.”

Ganyaza said about 145 people had been moved from their homes to Gali Thembani Special School’s facility.

“Motorists are warned to be extremely cautious as some of the roads are inaccessible. Silvertown, Rhawutini and Thulandivile informal settlements are highly affected. The extent of damages is yet to be determined. Rescue teams were still busy with evacuation,” he said.

ALSO READ: Government declares national state of disaster over widespread floods

Rhawutini resident Mbulelo Gushu said water started seeping into his house at around midnight while he was asleep: “I ignored the water, but it kept rising, and I had to wake my family of five and got on top of our shack.”

Gushu said they stayed on the roof for five hours.

“This time the water was high and strong, and I could not risk moving around with my one-month-old baby,” he said.

‘Not going anywhere’

Another resident Neliswa Sikhotha said she was not going anywhere.

“If we leave our shacks here, the thugs will come and steal what is left of our things.”

Sikhotha said when the water arrived, she heard people shouting and thought they were drunk.

“When we got up the water was already above my waist. We then left our houses and went to my child’s place, which is in a higher place,” she said.

“Even there the water got inside but it was better because it was just above our knees.”

Human settlements MEC Siphokazi Lusithi has promised to build 227 temporary structures for flood victims.

Written by Estelle Ellis and Tembile Sgqolana

-This article first appeared on Daily Maverick and is republished here under a Creative Commons license

Read more on these topics

Eastern Cape flooding floods Heavy Rain

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits