Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
By Caryn Dolley
More than 200 homes in the Overberg were damaged in Wednesday's torrential rain and scores of residents evacuated - but disaster management officials fear "the worst is yet to come".
This as the South African Weather Service warned that the stormy and rainy conditions are expected to continue on Thursday with a high risk of more flash floods, and the severe weather would also spread inland.
Hermanus, Greyton, Genadendal, Caledon, Riviersonderend and Stanford were among the harder hit towns.
Working on Fire (WoF), the organisation of firefighting volunteers trained to extinguish blazes, has been put on standby in case Disaster Management needs assistance in evacuating people and monitoring the "hectic and heavy flash floods".
Late on Wednesday the Overberg District Municipality's Disaster Management spokesperson, Reinard Geldenhuys, said more than 100 Genadendal residents and a number of Caledon informal settlement residents reported their houses flooded.
"In Hermanus another 115 structures were also affected. We've stationed an Oryx helicopter nearby. We've received reports another front will hit (this morning) so we're gearing up for the worst," he said.
Geldenhuys said more than 115mm of rain had fallen in Caledon in a few hours and at least 25mm fell every hour.
"It's raining harder and harder by the minute. It started about midnight and hasn't stopped. Four families in Caledon have also been evacuated."
The R43 between Stanford and Hermanus, the road between Boskloof and Spanjaardskloof as well as the R406 between Greyton and Riviersonderend had to be closed because of severe flooding.
Geldenhuys said roads between Caledon and Genadendal, the N2 between Swellendam and Riviersonderend and a gravel road to Malgas were also flooded.
Claude Schroeder, the Eden District Municipality's acting municipal manager, said "extreme heavy rain" had led to 15 homes in the Heidelberg area being flooded and one family had to be evacuated.
"It's still raining. The Slang-rivier and Riversdale areas were badly affected. We've given the residents whose homes were flooded blankets and they'll stay in their homes. The situation is under control but because it's still raining we don't know what can be expected," he said.
Schroeder said more than 100mm of rain was expected to fall on Thursday and Friday.
"Very rough seas" were also experienced with swells of more than five metres between Cape Point and Plettenberg Bay.
Johan Minnie, the City of Cape Town's Disaster Management spokesperson, said even though it was raining hard, no flooding reports were received from around the city on Wednesday.
"It's the Overberg area that's worst off," he said.
A joint operations centre was set up in Bredasdorp and another at the Old Town Hall in Caledon to co-ordinate rescue efforts.
Fransuliene Bosch, WoF's provincial co-ordinator, said it had been put on standby and could use its helicopters to help evacuate people.
"We can also send teams to help. The weather seems to be going from one extreme to the next," she said.
Neville Wright, owner of Soetfontein Farm, which doubles as a guest house 20km outside Greyton, said since Tuesday when the area experienced a "very heavy hail storm," more than 100mm of rain had fallen.
"It's affected us tremendously. People have cancelled their reservations. The road to the farm has washed away. The road between Riviersonderend and Greyton is also flooded. It's really bad and it's still pouring," he said from inside his house where the rain could be heard even over the phone.
Caledon Tourism Association chairperson Henry Holloway said it looked "pretty awful outside".
"It's raining like mad. We don't know when it's going to end," he said.
The South African Weather Service warned heavy rainfalls that could lead to flash flooding were expected in the Overberg, Breede River Valley and Eden District Municipality and would probably continue on Thursday. "Very cold, wet and windy conditions will set in in the interior of the Western Cape persisting on Thursday."