Eight people have died in KwaZulu-Natal since 24 January due to inclement weather, KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka said on Thursday.
“So far, KZN has lost eight lives as a result of the inclement weather conditions that started on 24 January due to tropical depression Eloise.
“The fatalities include a three-year-old child that was swept away when her mother was crossing a river in Ulundi,” he said.
Hlomuka appealed to residents to be on high alert as more rains are expected in the northern parts of the province over the weekend.
“We have directed disaster management teams across the province to be on high alert as more rains are expected.
“The latest report received from the South African Weather Service indicates that there is a severe risk of flooding due to the tropical storm that is expected to descend on the province this weekend.”
He said disaster management teams are currently dealing with floods in the uThukela district, where towns, including Ladysmith and Winterton, “have seen their roads flooded as a result of the persistent heavy rains”.
“Engineers in both these towns are working to resolve some of the challenges posed by the build-up of water.”
He said displaced residents in Ladysmith were provided with shelter inside the indoor sports complex.
“Community halls have been opened in all the affected areas.”
Hlomuka said a Joint Operations Committee for Disaster Management in the uThukela District was meeting daily to “devise a way to mitigate the impact of the flooding and to prevent any loss of life should the water level continue to increase”.
He added that disaster management teams were deployed to all affected areas within the uThukela district to provide interim relief to communities.
Hlomuka appealed to residents to “continue to exercise extreme caution as the coming rains could exacerbate the current situation, with a number of areas and communities facing the prospect of floods”.
He said disaster management teams were directed to work closely with community structures, such as ward committees and traditional councils, to ensure that residents in flood-risk areas are sufficiently warned and assisted should the need arise.
“The department will be continuing to monitor these developments and communicate any new measures to communities.”