One fatality, and 28 families homeless after Alice storm
By Khuthala Nandipha
A 28-year old mother of a toddler was killed when a church brick wall caved in on her in Nkobonkobo village in Alice on Sunday, February 2, after heavy rains, hail and thunderstorm. She had been attending a church service inside a tent when it was blown away. She ran for cover in the main church building and was leaning against the wall when it caved in. She died in hospital.
Two people, including a child are in a critical state in hospital. The child was struck by lightning while the adult male was cut by zinc and hit by a falling brick wall.
28 families have been left homeless after their RDP houses were blown away, with most right down to the foundation. 155 homes were partially damaged in eight villages and 59 homes were completely destroyed. The families have taken up shelter with their relatives and neighbours.
Thozama Maselwa, an East Londoner who is a student at the University of Fort Hare says the Sunday began as a beautiful hot day. She parked her vehicle up the road from campus close to the taxi rank in the valley.
“You could see there was a storm coming. It started raining, then a hailstorm, it was so quick it lasted for less than an hour. When the storm subsided, I went to my car only to find it covered in water up to the bonnet. Because it is an old-school golf, it survived. Other people with electronic machines, would not start. Taxis at the rank were swimming and drivers were trying to rescue their possessions inside the taxis,” she recalls.
Maselwa and other motorists had to wait for up to three hours for the water levels to drop. They tried waiting in nearby restaurants but their chairs and tables were floating in water. Two petrol stations had to close shop as they were covered in water, waist high. The electricity has been out since Sunday.
“The problem with this town is that its storm drainage system does not work, it has not in years,” said Maselwa. “I was lucky that my house was not flooded, but there was water running through until the next day. The damage in properties that I witnessed was severe and people were left homeless.”
Amathole District Municipality spokesperson, Noni Madikizela confirmed the damages during a multi-sector visit to the town on Monday.
“The town is looking very dry because of today’s high temperatures. It is as if the storm never happened. The overflow caused Alice town to be on stand still as vehicles could barely manoeuvre from one place to the other whilst some homes have also been damaged. ADM dispatched its disaster team to assess the extent of damage on Sunday. We are on the ground doing daily assessments of the damage and planning how the town can be assisted by Amathole and local government,” she said.
A multi stakeholder joint operation committee set up on Monday afternoon has promised to deliver food parcels to the affected families. The local municipality will submit an application for temporal structures to the national Department of Human Settlements.
The affected areas include Alice CBD, golf course, Nkobonkobo, Ntselamanzi, Ngwabeni, Lenge, Mgquba, Mavuso and Nomaqamba.