Sudden, severe thunderstorm ravages 300 homes in KwaZulu-Natal on Christmas Eve, South Africa

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A severe thunderstorm coupled with hail and strong winds hit KwaZulu-Natal on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2019, leaving up to 300 homes damaged. According to KZN cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka, disaster management teams were dispatched to the Harry Gwala district where heavy rains began at about 12:30 UTC (14:30 LT).

"Reports received by the department indicate that at 14:30 this afternoon, a severe thunderstorm swept through the uBuhlebezwe local municipality in the areas of KwaDladla, Mahhedle, and Ncakubana, and in the uMzimkhulu local municipality in the areas of KwaMeyi, Ibisi, kwaJames, and Kroemhoek," Hlomuka's department stated.

Several houses had their roofs blown off during the storm. Power lines were also affected. No injuries or fatalities have been reported so far.

Residents of KwaMeyi at uMzimkhulu in southern KwaZulu-Natal are trying to rebuild their houses after they were damaged by heavy rains coupled with hail and strong winds.

A resident named Thandekile Ngcongo explained what happened when the storm hit, saying, "It suddenly started lightning, this storm just came from nowhere and big hail rocks started falling that hit our houses, shattering our windows all over the floors."

He continued, "Water started coming in also. So many houses and families have been left destitute on this area. In one house children had to hide under the bed because no one was home at the time as most people were out Christmas shopping. Every family is saddened by this."

Another storm victim, 65-year-old Ntobeko Lukhozi, said the roof of his newly-built, seven-room house, was blown away in the blink of an eye.

"So much damage was caused by the powerful storm. The hail that was coupled with the rain and thundershowers scared us. It was all so sudden. The storm started and by the time we knew it the parts of the roof were falling on us in the house, most of it was getting blown away by the wind."

"We were left just standing the house and getting rained on. My new furniture that arrived the day before yesterday and I hadn’t even started using it was damaged by the rain. I don’t know what I’m going to do but I am grateful that we came out alive."

Hlomuka said, "We are very saddened by this incident that has taken place this afternoon in the Harry Gwala district. Our disaster management teams are currently busy with assessments of the extent of the damage within these municipalities. We have also activated community development workers who are supporting our teams in the assessments."

"Out of 304 households that have been affected, 33 of those households they are homeless. Hence we are identifying Halls and churches that we are going to accommodate those people who are homeless. We are providing those homeless families with a temporary intervention. We are providing food parcels, clothes, and other things."

In November, several storms ripped through KwaZulu-Natal, with strong winds and heavy rains damaging 220 homes in the eMadlangeni local municipality and the Zululand district municipality.

Featured image credit: Meteostat-8, RAMMB/CIRA at 14:45 UTC on December 24, 2019.

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