‘The worst flooding in 10 years’

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IOL  flooding-daphne done CAPE ARGUS Daphne Carstens of Overcome Heights informal settlement in Lavender Hill, where dozens of homes were flooded. Photo: David Ritchie

Cape Town - A week of rain has ended, with the last of three storm fronts that swept across the Western Cape clearing up.

But in the aftermath of torrential rains and flooding, 5 000 people are still looking for relief after their homes were damaged by rising storm water in the townships.

The city’s director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman, said around 1 500 dwellings were flooded early on Thursday after overnight rain.

Khayelitsha was worst hit. The township is built on the Kuils River flood plains which meant that low-lying areas were quickly submerged on Thursday morning.

In the township’s Site B, the RR section saw many homes waterlogged, the people inside stepping over large puddles pointing out furniture and appliances that had been damaged.

In Lavender Hill, residents of Overcome Heights called for mayor Patricia de Lille to visit their wet homes.

Cathy Lewis, 36, waded barefoot through ankle deep water inside her house.

“The water is so cold that my children have to sleep at my sister’s place.”

Plastic crockery floats underneath the sink and her bed is propped up on bricks and crates.

“It is painful. No one should live like this. I sleep under five blankets at night and in the morning have to walk through icy cold water.”

She said she was heartbroken, and had nowhere else to stay.

“You don’t feel like coming home to this. I can’t wash or cook here and all my clothes are wet.”

Francisco January, 46, has lived in the area for nine years. He sat on his bed above the water that covered the floor of his three-room home.

Music blared from a small radio; one light lit the dark room and crates served as a bridge to cross over the water.

January said he had been scooping water out of his home since 3am on Wednesday, but heavy rains on Thursday brought more flooding.

“It’s so cold that you feel you could freeze to death. This morning I got shocked from one of the electricity plugs.”

Karen Mentoor, a member of the Overcome Heights residents association, said people were living like animals.

“Not even dogs want to sleep this way. This is the worse flooding in the 10 years I’ve lived here. Fridges are wet, children can’t go to school because they are sick and their clothes are wet and we can get electric shocks and die.”

Residents have had enough.

“We need the mayor to come and look at how the people of Overcome Heights have to live.”

Other affected areas included Driftsands, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Mitchells Plain and the Strand.

While residents feared the storm would continue, Bosman said by on Thursday afternoon everything was clearing up. He was optimistic that the worst was over and a sunny weekend lay ahead.

Relief efforts have already begun. In Lavender Hill 400 blankets were handed out to displaced residents. The city has also provided residents in other areas with food, baby packs and flood kits.

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Cape Argus


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