Untimely Cape floods wash up bodies

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Independent Newspapers

A traffic officer directs cars after a tree fell in Liesbeek Road. Picture: Cindy Waxa

Robertson - The bodies of two women who were caught in the current of an overflowing river were found late on Tuesday afternoon.

The women were part of a group of five who had taken refuge under a bridge over the Hoops River in Robertson.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the bodies had been fished from the water during a search for another man who had fallen into a river from the rural town’s Adderley Street bridge.

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning streams and rivers overflowed and roads were blocked off by scattered debris as parts of the Western Cape were inundated with over 110mm of torrential rainfall.

The N1 running through Laingsburg was closed to traffic as part of the highway was flooded by an overflowing river.

Roads in Beaufort West, Ashton and Swellendam were also flooded.

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Part of the N1 through Laingsburg was closed after flooding.

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On Liesbeek Parkway, a tree caught in the storm toppled into the road, blocking off traffic for a few hours.

On Tuesday the rain wrought more havoc in the countryside. Houses in Zwelentemba and Avian Park, both in the Breede Valley municipal area, were flooded after hours of rainfall.

In the Langeberg municipality, causeways were closed off after they were flooded by the overflowing Hoops and Keisie rivers.

Residents of the Buffelsjags River informal settlement and the Bontebok National Park in Swellendam were evacuated on Monday evening as a precautionary measure – the park was still closed on Tuesday.

In Robertson, the town’s roads were flooded after the area experienced more than 110mm of rainfall.

The R60 between the rural town and Ashton was also temporarily closed as traffic officials removed debris from the road.

“It was quite something,” said commuter Geoff Bird.

“The rain was really coming down, and all these plants and rocks washed across the road into Ashton.”

Bird encountered the roadblock en route from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town on Tuesday morning. Most of his drive was spent under thick gray clouds, the countryside around him obscured by a wall of heavy rain.

“Visibility was at best 30m, it was scary stuff,” he said. “The roads were waterlogged, and I could feel my car struggling to grip on to the road when I drove through the deeper puddles. But there were still guys speeding all around me.”

With more rain forecast throughout the week, Agri Wes-Cape chief executive Carl Opperman has warned farmers to prepare for floods. He said the heavy rainfall, which is unusual for January – a month usually known for drought and fires – could not have come at a worse time as many farmers were harvesting their crops.

“While we have had no reports of flood damage, too much rain could cause the fruit to take up too much water and burst.”

Farmers have been advised to move stock from the low-lying areas and move equipment away from the rivers.

“It could be rough, but it is still better than dealing with fires or drought. Once the rain is gone we can go back to business as usual,” said Opperman.

kieran.legg@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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