Rains that have killed more than 400 people and displaced thousands in South Africa this week were pounding the east coast again on Saturday, threatening additional flooding and prompting many to seek shelter in community centres and town halls.
The severe rains in Kwazulu-Natal Province have already knocked out electricity lines, cut off water supplies, and delayed operations at Durban, Africa’s busiest port.
Flood victims huddled under blankets in a community hall in Umlazi, one of the country’s largest townships south of Durban, while others formed long lines for handouts of food and drink supplied by charities.
“What irritates me is that this situation keeps recurring,” Mlungeli Mkokelwa, a 53-year-old man who came to the settlement a decade ago in search of work but never found one, told the journalists.
“Floods continue to ruin our things, a problem that authorities should solve. No one ever returns with a plan to remedy the problem.”
Climate campaigners are urging for investments to assist people throughout the world better prepare for worsening weather, as the southeastern coast of Africa is anticipated to face more catastrophic storms and floods in the coming decades as a result of human-caused heat-trapping gas emissions.
While the east coast experiences more powerful rainstorms, other drier sections of the country have recently been affected by devastating floods, which have wiped out crops and forced water rationing due to climate change.
The recent rains are likely to last until early next week, leaving at least 40,000 people without shelter, power, or water.
“We don’t have running water, electricity, or even phones. We’re in a bind, “Gloria Linda, who was sheltering under a large umbrella alongside a muddy road in her Kwandengezi settlement, approximately 30 kilometres (20 miles) inland from Durban, stated this before meandering down a dirt trail to a burial of a friend slain in the floods.
A family stood in the rain in Kwandengezi, looking at their fallen metal hut, one of dozens dwellings in ruins.
On Saturday, state broadcaster SABC announced that the dead toll had risen to 398, with 27 people still missing. Many relatives were hunting for victims’ bodies to be buried in flood-devastated areas.
“We called the police, the ambulance, the fire department, but none of them came in time,” Muzi Mzobe, 59, a professional landlord in Kwandengezi, said to the media in front of a pile of wreckage that was all that remained of a property he was renting out to tenants who were killed in it.