Hundreds evacuated amid renewed flooding in KZN

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Hundreds of people have been evacuated to safety after heavy rains once again hammered South Africa’s coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, flooding roads and houses and damaging properties, a government official said on Sunday.

The province is still restoring damaged infrastructure and making plans to re-home people displaced after flooding last month, which was among the worst to have affected KwaZulu-Natal province in its recorded history. April’s floods killed 448, with 88 still missing, left more than 6,800 homeless and damaged more than R25 billion of infrastructure.

The province had received early warnings from the South Africa Weather Service, alerting it to further disruptive rainfall on Saturday in a number of towns, including Durban, the worst hit by the previous floods.

“So far the greatest impact is expected along the coastal and north-eastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal,” Sipho Hlomuka, member of the executive council for Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs told journalists.

He said approximately 250 people had been evacuated from care centres in Tongaat and Tehuise in Durban, including retirement villages, to other facilities. Only one family was evacuated due to the collapse of an informal dwelling.

“This heavy rainfall has resulted in the flooding of roads, human settlements and damage to properties. We understand that some areas are inaccessible and have become islands at this stage,” he said, adding they had yet to receive a full report on the impact of the latest heavy rains.

Rainfall persisted on Sunday in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the South Africa Weather service said, as the alert level remained at the highest and most severe level of 10.

Scientists believe the southeastern coast of Africa is becoming more vulnerable to violent storms and floods as human emissions of heat-trapping gases cause the Indian Ocean to warm. They expect the trend to worsen dramatically in coming decades.

Media briefing on KwaZulu-Natal floods:

Meanwhile, climate change expert professor, Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi says while the impact of heavy rains that led to flooding overnight in KwaZulu-Natal, is not at the scale of last month’s devastating floods that left hundreds dead, and scores homeless, there’s still concern that a lot of people remain vulnerable, as a result of the situation.

He says that climate change worsened the effect of the event.

“The frequency and intensity of weather extremes is likely to increase due to climate change, and of course, we’re seeing these floods that are happening again this weekend, and whilst the impact has not been at the scale of what we saw, the risk profile is what has really escalated this situation. Hence the level 10 warning issued by the South African Weather Service.”

Government activates emergency response systems as KZN hit by more severe flooding: