Mangaung struck by natural disasters

One of the 104 houses affected by the storm. PHOTO: EARL COETZEE

Several families in Bloemfontein’s informal settlements were left homeless after a storm ripped through Mangaung last week in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Powerful winds ripped roofs off houses and reduced shacks in townships like Phase 5 and Dinaweng to rubble. A resident of Dinaweng, Flip Nkanye, said: “I heard the wind blowing outside, I could hear it was getting stronger. At about 02:00 my house was blown away. I was shocked. I just saw the corrugated sheets fly off. Three shacks were blown away, but we came together with my neighbours to put them back together.”
The wind also caused serious damage to Centlec’s electricity supply in many parts of the municipal area, affecting normal distribution of electricity supply. Some electricity poles had fallen due to the storm, leaving residents without electricity.voice-front-page-pic-2The municipality said it was helping out where it can, but its main priority was to ensure that the electric poles that were damaged be restored as soon as possible. Mangaung Metro Mayor, Olly Mlamleli, said: “If the roof is affected, the electricity is off, then it means the food in that fridge is going to rot. But once we help you, you can carry on with your life.” Mlamleli added that residents often want further assistance during times of disaster, however, the storm wind does not qualify to be declared as a disaster. She said the municipality was working together with the Department of Social Services and the Red Cross to assist those affected.
The storm affected 104 houses. Ten of these houses were RDP houses and three of them were completely destroyed.img_0295And as if that and the hail the week before weren’t enough, a massive bolt of thunder hit Olive Hill in the north of Bloemfontein on Saturday night and left a path of destruction.
A resident, Jeremy O’Kennedy, told Voice they heard a deafening sound just after 22:00. Upon closer inspection, he saw the blue gum trees on the smallholding right next to them were completely destroyed. He said nothing remained of the three giant trees that must have been a hundred years old.
In fact, these trees “exploded” and the debris were launched in all directions like missiles, causing extensive damage to everything within a radius of about 80m. The walls of several houses and buildings were damaged, holes were ripped in fences and almost 400 roof tiles of one house were destroyed.img_0311O’Kennedy said two steel reinforced concrete fences close to the trees were hit and the steel and cement debris flew around at a blistering speed, causing further damage.
Residents in the area reported that the path of destruction stretches as far as 2,5km from the initial explosion. Fortunately no injuries were reported. – Seithati Semenokane,
Earl Coetzee & Karien Jordaan