NATIONAL NEWS - While the city responded effectively following heavy rains experienced in the city during April, a review of the municipality’s disaster management processes to ensure it was even more effective during times of natural disaster is underway.
This emerged during the tabling of a report by the executive committee at a meeting held on Tuesday.
The tabled report outlined the reported incidents in the city following heavy rains on April 22 and 23, the immediate response interventions provided by the municipality as well as the flood damage estimate costs and the relief and recovery operations underway.
The report states that the Disaster Operations Centre was in constant communication with critical stakeholders to provide rapid response and to monitor the situation.
It noted that the heavy rainfall led to localised flooding in most parts of the city resulting in a number of structural damage to houses and injuries and fatalities. The official death toll is 64.
The report noted that the Disaster Emergency Call Centre was inundated with calls receiving approximately 171 to 200 calls per hour.
The reporting of incidents by councillors and the community was still ongoing, the report stated.
Burial support was offered to a number of bereaved families.
The report states that disaster management officials have been conducting assessments of the damaged and profiling affected households. This includes 4007 houses that are partially damaged and 3, 929 that are totally damaged. The total number of people affected is 7365 of which 2988 are children.
Fifteen mass care centres were established in various wards to accommodate the displaced. The report notes that while some people have been reintegrated back into their communities, 12 mass care centres are still operational and housing over 1500 displaced residents.
A summary of damages and cost implications for each unit was also included in the report. For engineering, the estimated cost is R405.4 million which includes roads and stormwater maintenance related, roads provision and coastal stormwater and catchment management.
The total cost for human settlements is R663.3 million which includes breaking new ground houses and informal settlements.
Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries saw a bridge totally washed away, a picnic spot washed away and lifeguard towers severely damaged. The total cost of repairs is R1.8 million.
Meanwhile, the Electricity Unit estimates costs to be R19.5 million while the Health Unit requires R3 million to repair clinic roofs damaged and consultation rooms that were flooded.
The Metro Police requires R3.1 million to repair damage to the roof, tiles, wall and equipment at the Albert Park Police Station and for operational costs.
eThekwini deputy mayor, Cllr Fawzia Peer, said it was hard to predict natural disasters and that the city was as prepared as it could be. She said the Disaster Management Unit had formulated a template for councillors to fill in to ensure affected residents could be assisted speedily.
eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, commended officials as well as other stakeholders who came on board to assist the city during mop-up operations. She said a number of volunteers came on board to assist the city which greatly appreciated.
“We need these kinds of champions to be situated across all wards in case of a disaster, as they are ready to respond and give the help where needed,” she said.
Cllr Gumede said the issue of disaster management was not the Disaster Management Unit’s concern alone as it affected all units in the city. She proposed that a workshop be held for all unit heads to come together to strategies in order to minimise the impact of disasters in the city.
“Climate change affects all of us and impacts all departments so we all need to respond to it,” she said.
Representing the acting deputy city manager for community and emergency services, Noluthando Magewu was Vusi Mazibuko, who said a process to assess the Disaster Management Unit was underway to ensure the city would respond to disasters even more effectively.
“The Disaster Management Centre is a relief and response centre as opposed to being proactive which we want to change and currently reviewing,” he said.