Deadly KZN floods break rainfall records

Heavy downpours on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast have broken four rainfall records since Monday, one of them dating back to 1964, the Durban weather bureau said on Thursday.

“It was very heavy rain ... it is not unheard of, it has happened in the past, but I think this particular time, it seems to have broken a few records,” senior forecaster Colin Anderson said.

The floods have killed at least four people—including two children aged seven and 14—and displaced about 1 000. One of the children drowned when he slipped and fell into a river at Hibberdene while walking to school.

Rescue services were to visit flood-hit areas in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday to assess the damage caused by the heavy rains.

“We’re still housing a number of people in our municipal homes.
We are going out today [Thursday] to try to get a better assessment of the areas we could not access yesterday [Wednesday],” said Brian Dube, spokesperson for the Ugu district municipality.

The municipality was housing about 250 displaced people in the Port Shepstone area and another 700 in the Umzinto area.

ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said people were airlifted to safety at Oslo Beach and Uvongo Falls, Margate, as water had completely covered the area and they were in danger of drowning.

A yacht was abandoned on Tuesday afternoon when it ran into trouble in rough seas. Three people in it were rescued. The three were hoisted individually into a helicopter and flown to safety.

Hundreds of motorists were caught in traffic for nearly two hours on Wednesday as mudslides and water puddles were reported throughout the eThekwini region.

The weather bureau’s Anderson said the heavy rain was caused by a “very damp easterly-southeasterly air flow that came off the sea”.

“As it rises, it produces the cloud and rain,” he said.

Four weather stations reported new rainfall records for the month of June in the province, including Paddock, which reported rainfall of 382mm on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The previous record in Paddock was 337mm, recorded in 1964.

Margate recorded 189,2mm, the most since 1997 (141,2mm), while Ixopo reported 36,6mm compared with 31,6mm last year. Pennington South broke its record from last year with 189,4mm.

It seems the worst is over for now.

“It is still cloudy and it appears as if there’s still light rain on the North Coast towards Richard’s Bay, but the rain has basically stopped on the South Coast,” said Anderson.—Sapa

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