Dam wall break leaves St Francis Bay homes ruined

Rochelle de Kock

AT least two homes worth millions of rands were wrecked by a massive torrent of water that hit St Francis Bay’s upmarket suburb of Santareme when the dune wall of a natural dam burst at the weekend.

Homeowners are now worried that a second, bigger dam’s dune wall could also give way.

The quiet suburb, which boasts several large, elegant homes and holiday houses, was hit by the deluge of water on Saturday morning.

One affected resident said her neighbour was lucky he was not athome at the time as the force of the water caused such destruction he would probably have died.

Driveways were completely washed away, furniture destroyed and windows broken by the fast- flowing river of water which gushed downhill from the natural dam above the suburb through the houses and into the sea.

The Kouga Municipality said the two houses suffered the most damage. Their ground floors were flooded, boundary walls smashed and paving ripped up.

Kouga municipal spokeswoman Laura-Leigh Randall said the water caused massive craters on the road and pavements, blocking the driveways of three houses.

She said several homes had been left without water due to a broken water pipe, but this had since been fixed.

“St Francis Bay residents rallied together to mop up the water and clean up the homes that were hit.”

Shocked residents described the incident as something out of a movie. One of the victims, Paddy Oosthuizen, said while her house had not been as badly damaged as her neighbour’s, the floors were covered in mud and sludge.

“I’m so lucky I wasn’t home,” she said. “If I was home, I would’ve been badly hurt. The water ran down through my garage, down the stairs and through the house.

“The donga between my neighbour and me that goes down to the sea looks like the Grand Canyon.

“The worst part is, there is a second dam out there that’s bigger and we are nervous it will burst.”

Her neighbour’s house was the worst hit. “My neighbour’s holiday house is completely destroyed. He was luckily not there because he would’ve been killed.

“The water took out his front wall, smashed the windows of his house and went through the house down to the sea. There are trees and tyres in his house. His furniture is completely destroyed.”

The driveway of a third house was left a complete mess.

Oosthuizen said service delivery was almost non-existent in the area and there was virtually no stormwater drainage.

“We can’t continue like this. The weather patterns are changing and the municipality needs to play its part in ensuring disasters like this don’t occur.”

Randall said: “The emphasis for the municipality this weekend has been on restoring services and securing the site [by] blocking off the road [and] filling the craters.

“Consequently, we cannot at this stage give a monetary value of the damage.”

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