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Cape Town mayor ‘unlocks’ resources, thousands in province evacuated after stormy weather

Sandvlei near Macassar flooded as Cape Town continues with mop-up operations after heavy rains. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Sandvlei near Macassar flooded as Cape Town continues with mop-up operations after heavy rains. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 27, 2023


Cape Town - Mop-up operations are under way across the Western Cape after the devastating storm and accompanying floods battered the province for two days.

Meanwhile, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has signed a “major incident declaration” which allows for the unlocking of additional resources and relief measures to deal with incident impacts.

More than 1 000 families have been evacuated from their homes in the Cape Metro, with 3-5 individuals per house.

Various entities including schools remain closed as 87 roads including pathways under provincial government, are not accessible.

Shihaam Mayer cleans up after floods in Sandvlei near Macassar. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

The Department of Social Development is working with the South African Red Cross Society to co-ordinate the receiving and distribution of donations to affected communities.

Gift of the Givers spokesperson Ali Sablay said their team split into three divisions on Monday to respond to the huge deluge and flooding, yet it was impossible to reach all communities simultaneously.

The affected areas are vast, affecting more than 10 000 people in communities aon the N1, N2 and R60.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) reported that in Stanford, at least 46 residents including adults, the elderly and children, a parrot and domestic animals were safely evacuated from houses and buildings affected by the Klein River that burst its banks during heavy downpours since Sunday evening and into daybreak on Monday.

Shelter, medications, supplies and some hospitalisations were carried out during Monday that saw all affected, safely relocated to shelters and safe areas.

In Strandfontein, 71 residents, including children and two pregnant women and domestic animals were safely evacuated. One person was taken to hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition.

Fifty-six people and domestic animals were sheltered at Macassar Community Centre.

Overberg District Municipality reported that there were two presumed fatalities. Two people in the Villiersdorp and Bot River bridge areas were swept away by flood water on Monday. A police search is still ongoing.

The provincial Department of Health and Wellness said because of the bad weather some health facilities were closed or operating at reduced capacity with most of the community healthcare centres and clinics closed in the Cape Winelands.

In Overberg, most facilities were short-staffed and there was a high case load pressure at the forensic pathology services in the metro. Movement of bodies was affected by road closure, especially in the Meiringspoort.

Eskom said about 15 000 customers across the Western Cape were still without power. It had intensified efforts to restore electricity supply and had significantly reduced the number of customers without electricity.

On Monday, more than 82 000 customers across the province were without power.

Alan Meyer, the deputy director-general at Western Cape Education, said preliminary figures were set at 26% absenteeism based on 1 076 schools which had responded.

Absenteeism is largely due to pupil transport routes being inaccessible as roads were significantly damaged in rural areas such as Eden, Central Karoo, Overberg District and parts of the Cape Winelands District.

“About 16 schools have closed, largely due to inability to access the school grounds with Cape Winelands, Overberg and Metro Education District worst affected. About 152 schools have reported varying levels of structural damage and 242 schools have reported that they have been affected by the storm which caused low learner attendance.”

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the City of Cape Town informed the Western Cape government that about 6 000 people had so far been identified as in dire need, but this number was likely to increase.

In the rest of the province, the Overberg region was hardest hit.

“Although it is still too early to calculate the cost of this storm, if viewed in the context of the June floods, and the recent coastal damages due to storm surges, this is becoming a very expensive winter for the Western Cape.

“Moving forward, the focus must be to further invest in early warning infrastructure and to make sure that new infrastructure is designed with adjusted climate change parameters in mind,” Bredell said.