Alex Mitchley
3 minute read
30 Nov 2013
7:00 am

Gauteng struggles in storm aftermath

Alex Mitchley

Gauteng spent most of Friday with battered communities recovering from the massive thunderstorm that damaged vehicles, property and plunged parts of Pretoria into darkness.

Ouma Matebetesii sweeps water inside her house at Soqobile, Extension 10, west of Johannesburg, 29 November 2013. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

On Thursday afternoon most of Gauteng experienced one of the worst storms of the year with hail bigger than golf balls being recorded. Some parts of Gauteng were also subjected to heavy flooding. The SA Weather Service said there was hail damage and flooding throughout Gauteng but that the West Rand in Johannesburg and Mamelodi in Pretoria were the worst hit.

Emergency services spent the night moving people away from their houses that were destroyed by the hailstones and heavy floods, according to Johannesburg EMS Robert Mulaudzi . In Soweto, more than hundred houses were seriously damaged in areas such as Emdeni, Dobsonville, Braamfisherville and Lufhereng.

Johannesburg disaster management provided roof salvage sheets to affected households and is currently monitoring the situation.

The West Rand was also hit hard by the storm and left many families homeless. Emergency services were dispatched to assist the affected families and to relocate them to alternative places.

Tshwane spokesperson Blessing Manale said emergency medical services and disaster management had been dispatched to assess the massive damage to houses in Soshanguve Block UU and HH, as well as parts of Mamelodi.

“EMS units have started issuing food parcels, blankets and water to the affected families some whom have already sought refuge in the various community centres,” he added.

Reverand Dube Mndevele (73) poses for a portrait behind her damaged rooftop ,29 November 2013, in Emdeni, Soweto. The area experienced heavy rain, wind and hail yesterday (28 November 2013) disaster management was dispatched to  the area to evaluate the damage. Picture: Alaister Russell

Reverand Dube Mndevele (73) poses for a portrait behind her damaged rooftop ,29 November 2013, in Emdeni, Soweto. The area experienced heavy rain, wind and hail yesterday (28 November 2013) disaster management was dispatched to the area to evaluate the damage. Picture: Alaister Russell

The City of Tshwane also suffered major power outages due to the affected the Woolmer substation. Five towers in the substation needs to be replaced.

Power is expected to be restored within three days due to the towers having to be reconstructed. Insurers were inundated with calls from clients yesterday.

Standard Bank confirmed that it had invoked its “catastrophe plan” to increase the capacity of its call centres. More than 3 000 calls have been received – 1 500 of which were received in a single hour, while the storms pounded the Highveld, said Denise Shaw, Head of Standard Bank Insurance Services.

OUTsurance CEO Ernst Gouws said that it has been receiving claims non-stop since the storm hit.

“There have been so many claims that we have had to mobilise extra staff to capture and work on the claims that are coming through because of the storm,” said Gouws. The damage to many vehicles was so bad they would probably be writing many cars off.

There was also a large number of claims of commercial and private properties reporting flooding, collapsed ceilings, broken window and severely damaged roofs.

Gouws also noted there would be a lot of frustrated vehicle owners as panel beaters all over the province are fully booked and backed up because of storm damaged vehicles.

Meanwhile, the increase in severe storms may leave insurance companies with thousands of claims on their hands which could lead to them pushing up their premiums in 2014, the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) has warned.