Health centre cut off as floods render roads impassable

JON HOUZET and ROB KNOWLES

ONE of the businesses worst affected by the flooding is St Francis Health Centre, where staff were stranded for nearly four days after the Bathurst to Kleinemonde road collapsed in parts and became undriveable.

Owner Anneliese Cowley said they have had to turn away guests from the internationally known health centre, and put their therapists on standby.

“This is the worst disaster I’ve experienced in 21 years of business,” said Cowley.

She blames the provincial roads department for doing nothing to repair the road and restore access since the floods.

“From last Tuesday to Friday (October 16 to 19) we had a total of 18 “horrified and petrified” guests and staff members who could not leave the centre after the road was rendered impassable due to flooding,” said Cowley.

“I phoned a road engineer from the department of roads, Marius Keyser, who told me to call the contractor responsible for grading the road.”

However, the phone call rendered little in the way of results as the contractor insisted he had recently graded the road and it was “fine”.

Cowley said the contractor claimed he had travelled the road that day and could see no problems.

She then asked him to drive past again so she could show him the problems they were experiencing but, despite waiting for him outside the centre, he never arrived.

Adding to her problems, one of her guests became severely ill last week and Cowley even considered calling for a helicopter to air-lift the lady to hospital.

Fortunately the centre’s assistant maintenance manager, Stan Webber, managed to acquire a grader and, having collected stones and gravel, filled the crevices sufficiently to allow him and a guest to drive a 4×4 out of the centre, finally evacuating all those trapped inside.

“None of my therapists have been able to get to work since this occurred,” said an angry Cowley. “We have had to turn guests away as there is still no access in or out of the centre.

“I intend to take this further, to Bhisho if necessary. All I want is a road we can drive on. I pay so much tax and I get nothing in return.”

TotT contacted Keyser at the department of roads but had not received a response by the time of going to press.”

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