Durban – The damage caused by a storm that has thus far claimed eight lives in KwaZulu-Natal could run into hundreds of millions of rands, government has said.
From severe flooding at hospitals and schools to the damage of roads, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for human settlements Ravi Pillay said that cost to repair the damage caused by Tuesday's storm would likely continue to escalate.
"It is difficult to predict cost. In King Edward alone we identified six areas that require immediate attention. Our estimate over there is around R25m. If you extrapolate that to other buildings, it is probably in the hundreds of millions."
Pillay said his department would also be looking to ascertain how damaged infrastructure could be improved.
A host of public services were severely affected following a violent storm that battered KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
Several schools and a number of hospitals, particularly in the eThekwini metro area were badly affected, acting cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Wesizwe Thusi said on Wednesday.
She was speaking at the Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi after a brief tour to survey damaged hospitals. She confirmed that the death toll following the floods had risen to eight. She said the figure could rise as many people were still missing.
Thusi, health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Pillay visited the King Edward Hospital earlier in the day.
The hospital suffered large-scale damage, particularly flooding and roof damage, during the storm that saw almost 100mm of rain fall within a few hours in Durban.
"The torrents of rain have also caused enormous damage to [other] healthcare institutions largely in the eThekwini district," Thusi said.
Thusi said that outside of the eThekwini metro the Nquthu municipality reported two deaths, including that of an 8-year-old who was struck by lightning. She said another person, a 46-year-old man, drowned while crossing a low-lying river.
She confirmed that the six casualties in the metro included one municipal employee who died on Russell Street when a public toilet collapsed. A police officer died on Rotterdam Road when a container fell on the vehicle he was in.
"In addition, many more people have sustained injuries, some of them serious, and all are being treated in various healthcare facilities."
Thusi confirmed that the roof of Addington Hospital's dental block was blown away during the storm, affecting the clinic and casualty wards.
She said that the casualty section and resuscitation rooms at RK Khan Hospital were flooded while sections of Wentworth Hospital's roof were also blown off. Saint Aidan's Hospital's administration block was flooded.
Meanwhile, the roof of Clairwood Hospital's X-ray department was blown off, damaging equipment and causing flooding.
According to Thusi, displaced communities were temporarily accommodated in community halls where they were receiving emergency relief assistance.
"As many as 500 power outages were reported in eThekwini yesterday, many of them affecting large areas. Municipal technical staff have been working round the clock to restore power supply to the affected areas through alternative networks."
She said that disaster management teams had been working through the night to clear blocked roads and remove uprooted trees and debris.
According to Thusi, most schools' day-to-day running was disrupted as most pupils were sent home early.
She said that 42 schools were "gravely affected" including 12 schools in Ugu, 24 in Umlazi, four in King Cetshwayo district and one in Pinetown.
"Nine of these are high schools and the department of education has raised concerns about the upcoming matric examinations in these schools. Plans are underway to ensure that pupils from all affected schools will be able to sit their exams as per the set schedule."