Mop-up operations begin after flooding

Yoliswa Sobuwa, Graeme Hosken and Mhlaba Memela

NELSON Mandela Bay residents and officials began mop-up operations yesterday as large dams of water, caused by the weekend’s heavy rainfall, started to subside.

And while the municipality drained waterlogged areas such as the Walmer air freight industrial park, businesses were taking stock of the damage.

Residents in affected areas – including Missionvale, Kleinskool, Kuyga and Motherwell – armed with buckets and mops tried to scoop water from their flooded homes.

Among them was Missionvale resident Xolani Manene, 22, who was at work when his four-room shack was flooded.

“I only became aware of the situation at my place when I got home from night shift on Saturday morning. The water was up to my knees and my furniture was floating around. My furniture and electrical appliances are all damaged. All my hard work is gone with the floods.”

Hendrick Erasmus, 53, also of Missionvale, was forced to sleep at a friend’s house. “My bed was soaking wet and there was no way I was going to sleep there.”

In Baakens Street, Catertrend’s Craig van Rooyen said they had prevented major damage thanks to the weather warnings issued last week.

“We had three days to lift everything and disconnect all the computers. We also managed to place sand bags to prevent water from coming inside. At the moment, we are just getting rid of the mud,” he said.

Some schools, which reopened yesterday after the mid- year break, were also emptier than usual.

Windvogel’s Van der Kemp Primary School principal, Debbie Jeptha, said they had a high absenteeism rate.

“We [had] an average of between nine and 10 pupils per class who are absent.”

The Animal Anti-Cruelty League’s Linda- Louise Swain said they had managed to rescue 25 animals in total.

“We only had one sad story of a little puppy that was left outside in the rain and it froze to death. We visited 100 homes checking on the safety of the animals,” she said.

Meanwhile, Eastern Cape residents have opened their hearts to a young Port Elizabeth couple – tow truck driver Phillip Wolfsburg and his fiancee, paramedic Danielle van Rensburg, both in their 20s.

Wolfsburg was out helping others affected by the weather on Saturday when their house in Albert Road, Walmer, was flooded.

The two, who did not have insurance, regularly contribute to a popular public page on social networking site Facebook, warning others about accidents and other dangerous situations in the region.

A group has since been opened for the couple and members are welcome to donate goods. By last night, the group had more than 1000 members.

Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said the municipality had already started on road repairs.

“We are also returning displaced communities to their homes. Depending on the affected areas, communities will return to their homes any time between one and five days.

“There were also relief efforts which took place over the weekend that included the provision of blankets, mattresses, soup and bread to 2300 people in the more than 20 affected areas,” Williams said.

Emergency officials had their hands full at the weekend as temperatures plummeted and nearly 200mm of rain was recorded in some areas.

A total of 195mm was recorded at the Third Avenue dip in Newton Park, which was still closed last night. Other places that recorded heavy rainfall were Riverstone Bridge (136mm), St Albans (123mm) and Port Elizabeth Airport (116mm).

As temperatures started to rise yesterday, the SA Weather Service warned people not to relax just yet.

While no crippling snow storms, which saw many mountain passes across the country closed at the weekend, are expected for the rest of the week, the biting cold conditions will remain.

“What has happened is by no means over,” warned weather forecaster Dipuo Tawana.

Tawana said people should brace themselves for “extreme, bone-chilling cold conditions” this weekend.

This comes as another cold front is due to hit the Western Cape on Friday, spreading eastwards and inland.

“We have issued a warning about very cold conditions, especially over the Eastern Cape’s high-lying areas.

“This storm will affect large portions of the country, including Gauteng, North West, Lesotho and the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape,” Tawana said.

Eastern Cape weather forecaster Pumla Goba said: “Inland day temperatures will range between 10 and 16 degrees [today], increasing to between 13 and 21 degrees [tomorrow].”

Most of the roads in the province that were closed due to floods and snowfalls were reopened yesterday.

DA spokesman for roads Pine Pienaar advised motorists to call 0800-864-951 to report potholes. Additional reporting by Mamela Gowa

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