The Msunduzi Municipality has urgently called on residents in low-lying areas and near Henley Dam to evacuate, as heavy rainfall persists.

The Msunduzi Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal has urged residents living in low-lying areas or near the Henley Dam to evacuate to higher ground immediately.

The province has experienced devasting floods during and since the festive season in Ladysmith and surrounding areas, where about 40 people died as of Saturday, according to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZNCogta).

Henley Dam at 101.82% capacity

Msunduzi said on Tuesday afternoon that it advised residents who lived in low-lying areas or near Henley to evacuate to higher ground immediately as the dam was at 101.82% capacity with 44mm of rain recorded following Monday night’s heavy rainfall.

“In light of this situation, it is crucial for all residents to keep downstream areas clear. Any change in water levels will flow through downstream areas, posing a significant risk to life and property,” the municipality said in a statement.

It further urged residents to remain vigilant and follow all safety guidelines.

ALSO READ: Gauteng residents warned to brace for severe thunderstorms

Ladysmith flooding on Monday night

On Monday evening, the KwaZulu-Natal Disaster Management Teams responded to flooding in Ladysmith and surrounding areas caused by heavy rain.

Some roads, including the N11 between Newcastle and Ladysmith, had to be temporarily closed to reduce the risk when it was discovered that a substantial volume of water was streaming into Ladysmith, said KZNCogta.

“Some of the roads will remain closed as the town is still flooded. Approximately 70 people were evacuated from the Ladysmith central placed in the Indoor Sport Centre to ensure everyone’s safety,” the department said on Tuesday.

It added that the teams also responded to the Steadville Township area, where 15 people had to be evacuated to the community hall, and another 23 in Matiwane were placed in the community hall for their safety.

In another incident, the disaster teams were active in the Msinga area, where residents of a block of rental rooms built along the uThukela River were evacuated as the river was overflowing.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Rain wreaks havoc in Gauteng but no fatalities reported

Flooding disaster relief supplies

The department confirmed that the teams, in collaboration with the South African Red Cross and the Al-Imdaad Foundation for Disaster, had given those affected by the floods disaster relief supplies, such as mattresses and blankets.

“We would like to express our sympathy to all families and businesses that have been affected by yet another rainstorm that hit our province. We commend the swift response by our team, and our priority is to save human lives, particularly as we are still reeling from the devastation caused by rains during the holidays that [claimed] many lives in KZN,” said the province’s MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.

“We encourage communities to work together with us in this response by adhering to the instructions given to them. We will continue to provide disaster relief, and all our municipalities will be out to ensure every family at risk is assessed to receive assistance.”

The MEC added that the heavy rains are not over yet and pleaded with communities to continue exercising extreme caution by moving to safer places when it rains.

The weather service issued a yellow level 2 warning for severe thunderstorms expected to produce heavy downpours, strong winds, hail, and excessive lightning that may result in localised flooding of susceptible roads, low-lying areas, and bridges, localised damage to informal houses (roofs) over an open area, and localised structural damage in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

ALSO READ: Seven-year-old boy drowns after being swept away in Enembe River


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