“It was an horrific experience for our staff. The wind was incredibly violent. It felt as if the building wanted to take off with door panels and roof tiles flying all over. Then, after about a minute, there was calm. It was dead quiet. We looked outside and saw trees that had been ripped up, roof tiles lying all over the ground, door panels strewed all round. It was devastation.”
These are the words of Kevin Usher, GM Trucks of the Halfway Group, describing to FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary the scene when a tornado hit Hino Honeydew during the horrific storm last Monday, October 9th. The dealership, situated on Beyers Naude Drive opposite the Zandspruit settlement, was in the direct path of the tornado that swept through the area causing huge damage to everything in its path.
Thankfully, nobody in the dealership was killed but one man was seriously injured when one of the workshop doors that was ripped off its mountings, hit him and threw him across the building. He sustained a back injury, was hospitalised and discharged a day later. Four other staff members sustained minor injuries.
A closer inspection of the surrounds showed that the rear wall of the building where new trucks are kept had been blown over, spewing bricks inwards onto the back of two new Hino 500 models and one Hino 300 model. The new trucks in the yard had also incurred damage from flying tiles.
Behind the dealership, Pierre Road was totally blocked by fallen trees. Telephone lines were down, electrical pylons were down with the cables stretching on the ground down the road. Destruction was everywhere.
On the opposite side of the Hino premises where the Halfway Group houses a number of other operations – including the parts warehouse for the Hino dealership – a fence had collapsed onto vehicles, parts of the roof of the panel shop and other buildings had been ripped off, windows were shattered, walls had collapsed, the security fence fronting onto Beyers Naude was down. It was total chaos. Very sad to see.
When I was small and didn’t tidy my room, my mom would come in and screech: “Look at this mess. Tidy your room. It looks like a tornado has been through here.” No Mom. That was nothing compared to when a real tornado comes through. Hino Honeydew had a real tornado come through it – and that leaves a real mess.
“It’s a set-back in terms of doing business as we can’t trade. We have no electricity, water, telephone lines, internet or any other essential services. We’ve now relocated our administration staff to Honeydew Toyota in Northgate to get our computers up and running and at least field telephone calls,” says Usher.
In order to minimise any inconvenience to clients, Usher also immediately commissioned his two mobile service units to do on-site services for clients who had booked their vehicles into the dealer’s workshop. Hats off to that initiative!
And now, the rebuilding begins. The insurance assessors visited the premises on the Tuesday and Usher and his team are now waiting for the OK to get cracking on rebuilding. In the meantime, the dealership is pretty vulnerable to looters with the entrance to the workshops totally open at the back due to the door shutters being blown off.
“We haven’t experienced major theft problems in the past and I don’t think that will happen now. We employ quite a few residents from the settlement and the community knows we are contributing to the upliftment of the locals,” says Usher.
On the Tuesday afternoon, I visited the dealership and walked around to see first-hand the damage caused. I was shocked. In the over 60 years I have lived on the West Rand – 29 years of which have been in the Honeydew area – I have never, ever, experienced a storm as powerful and as vicious as the one which hit last Monday.
The photographs of what I saw are featured below. None of them need captions or explanations. They are self-explanatory. This is what nature can do in one minute. It’s awesome. It’s terrifying. It’s humbling.
Gift of the Givers
When I drove away, I felt sad. I felt sort of helpless. However, it wasn’t 100 metres down the road when I looked left and saw two trucks parked in an open space next to the dealership with long lines of people queuing for – for what? I did a U-turn and pulled in. It was the Gift of the Givers handing out food, fruit and small blankets to the residents of Zandspruit who had also lost their homes in the storm.
Wow! On the one side of the coin was devastation and sadness. On the other side was hope and comfort. And guess what trucks the Gift of the Givers used to haul the food? Yep. You guessed right – a Hino 500 and a brand new Hino 300. There was some significance in this.
Not 100m away, two new Hino 500s and one Hino 300 had been rendered unsalable in that state due to the damage incurred by the storm. Here the same models were doing what trucks are meant to do, namely, uplift society by delivering goods where needed.
Click here to see the Gift of the Givers bringing relief to the locals.
Hey. I know I’m a romantic but wow, I felt good. Watching those magnificent people from the Gift of the Givers helping those in need while being backed by their two wonderful trucks was just so – well, just so great. I drove away feeling much better. South Africans have ‘goedspa’ and spirit – and that’s one attribute no storm will ever be able to destroy.
The thought stuck me then that if only every politician – America’s Donald Trump, North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Zimbabwe’s Bob Mugabe and many other pompous leaders – could stand alone in the path of such a storm, it would serve as a valuable lesson in humility as their self-assumed, over inflated, puffed up chest power would pale into absolute insignificance when compared against the might of a one-minute tornado.
Footnote: While Gauteng was evaluating the damage the next day – Tuesday October 9th – the Durban area faced its own nightmare on that day with an equally ferocious storm flooding many areas and gale-force winds ripping the roofs off many buildings. Particularly hard hit by the flooding was the Prospecton area and here too, Hino was affected with the truck plant being flooded. As I write this, the plant is still closed while the damage is evaluated and a plan put in place to get it up and running.
Kevin Martin of Freightliner Transport in Durban also had part of the roof of his offices blown off when the neighbouring building’s roof flew off and hit his.
“We lost some roof sheets and the ceilings collapsed allowing the water to come in but luckily my staff were on hand to secure the computers and other equipment so we’ll be OK. We’re a bit bruised and kicked but we survived. I guess that’s why we’re in transport. You roll with the punches,” he says resiliently. Yip! That’s what we do.
Scenes of devastation at Honeydew Hino after being hit by a tornado on October 9th
Gift of the Givers using a Hino 500 and Hino 300 to bring comfort to the storm afflicted residents of Zandspruit