Heavy rains and raging winds swept across Zululand last weekend, causing some major damage, injuries and, sadly, a few fatalities.
The Richards Bay area seemed to be the worst hit by the storm, with reports of up to 425 mm rain recorded in the suburb Meerensee, and 415 mm in Kwambonani. Empangeni received 256 mm rain.
Be prepared and minimise storm damage
Social media is buzzing with everyone sharing the local authorities’ ‘severe weather warning’, and you’ve made sure you’ve also passed it on to all your friends and relatives. Now what?
Thanks to technology, the media and the Internet, it is hard for any storm to come as a surprise nowadays.
Heed to the warnings and do a little preparation – you’ll never know how much a few precautionary steps might help to minimise the potential damage that a storm may cause.
- Check your weather updates. If you are told to evacuate your home, do so – especially if your house has flooded before.
- If there’s enough time, collect all your important documents like birth certificates and insurance documents and keep them with you in a waterproof container.
- Disconnect all electrical devices.
- If your house if prone to flooding, move everything you can off the ground, including the shoes in your wardrobe. Remember, electric, wooden and paper/cardboard items are the most easily damaged when they get wet.
- Park your vehicles in the garage, or in a safe place away from water bodies or storm drainage pipes.
- Secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose.
- Bring garden ornaments, loose tools and garden furniture indoors.
- Remove hanging baskets and potted plants from open decks and patios. If they are too big to be moved indoors, cluster them together in a protected area. You can also lay large potted trees on their side in a sheltered location and strap them down. (https://www.mydirtygardener.com/blogs/news/what-to-do-with-your-garden-in-case-of-a-storm)
- Dead, rotting or damaged trees and branches should be removed well ahead of any storm.
- Stake small trees and shrubs to provide support from strong wind. Place sandbags or large bags of garden soil around vulnerable garden beds.
- If there is enough time, clean your house’s gutters, drains and downpipes, and make sure the roof is in good repair.
- Once the storm is about to hit, close all the windows in your house.
- If you can hear thunder, go indoors and stay there for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap. Keep away from windows and doors.
- Avoid using electrical equipment and telephones. Never take a bath, shower or use plumbing during a thunder storm.
- If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, stay away from tall objects, such as trees, poles, wires and fences. Take shelter in a low lying area.
- Avoid walking through floodwaters – even knee deep water can sweep you off your feet.
- Do not try to drive through a flooded area.
Zululand rainfall figures in mm dates 12 to 19 May 2017