Coastal city collapses onto beach in severe South African flooding

·Environment Editor
·2-min read

Hundreds of people have been evacuated after the east coast of South Africa was inundated by floodwaters with mudslides almost destroying coastal towns.

Heavy rains over the weekend wreaked havoc on roads and houses across the province of KwaZulu-Natal, near Durban.

Video uploaded to local news shows a parking lot behind waterfront homes completely collapsed, with cars teetering on the edge of the pavement, and buildings also giving way.

Parts of KwaZulu-Natal have been devastated by severe rainfall. Source: Eyewitness News
Parts of KwaZulu-Natal have been devastated by severe rainfall. Source: Eyewitness News

Photographs show streets turned to rivers, echoing similar scenes in Australia this year, and Europe in 2021.

The extreme weather spell follows flooding in April which killed 448 people, left 6,800 homeless and created a damage bill of 25 billion rand ($2.24 billion).

A bridge in KwaZulu-Natal became flooded after heavy rainfall. Source: Reuters
A bridge in KwaZulu-Natal became flooded after heavy rainfall. Source: Reuters

Many roads and other infrastructure damaged during the previous event was was yet to be repaired when the recent flooding occurred.

Call for better flood forecasting system for Australia

Residents around Durban benefited from an early warning from South Africa Weather Service, which advised of severe rainfall on Saturday.

With the World Weather Attribution group finding climate change has made extreme flooding in the region twice as likely when compared to pre-industrial times, such systems will be integral in protecting lives.

A woman holding onto a street sign while inside a small boat.
Flooding inundated Coraki, NSW, this year. Source: Deborah Johnston

In Australia, UNSW Engineering hydrologist, Professor Ashish Sharma, has called for investment in hydrological modelling and infrastructure to help protect NSW and Queensland communities from flooding.

This will involve redesigning dams and levees, as well as improving forecasting so early warnings can be better issued to residents.

While Professor Sharma acknowledges this will be costly, he argues the “long-term benefits for the next generation are clear”.

“A lot has changed in the last 50 years. We have had significant changes in our climate, but the flood infrastructure and warning systems haven’t caught up yet,” he said.

“They have been put in place to expect little to no change — as it used to be in the previous 10, 20, or 30 years.”

with Reuters

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