Cape Town - With mop-up operations under way after a storm wreaked havoc across the Mother City, the weather service has warned that the icy, wet weather will persist.
The deluge of rain led to cars struggling to navigate overflowing roads, disrupted train services and crews dealing with mudslides and uprooted trees. Many of the city’s poor faced the misery of flooded homes, with nowhere to go.
The influx of reports began as early as 3am and included stormwater overflows, uprooted trees, road closures, mudslides, flooded buildings and informal settlements, and even vehicles floating along the streets of Cape Town.
Despite the City, Western Cape Government (WCG) and emergency services’ preparations to mitigate the impact of the prolonged harsh cold fronts expected this winter, yesterday’s flooding showed that much more support was needed.
The SA Weather Service (Saws) warned that icy, wet and windy conditions would persist over the Cape provinces, and that the arrival of Thursday’s cold frontal system would be “the first in a succession of such systems” that are expected to pass through the Cape provinces almost daily until well after the long weekend.
Rainfall chart for today, 15 June 2023. Widespread showers over the south-western parts of the Western Cape, otherwise scattered to isolated over the Western and Eastern Cape including the southern parts of the Northern Cape. pic.twitter.com/509y0zQMpK— SA Weather Service (@SAWeatherServic) June 15, 2023
Outlook for Friday, 16 June 2023. No rain expected. pic.twitter.com/d3ylETcjb4— SA Weather Service (@SAWeatherServic) June 14, 2023
Outlook Charts for Saturday, 17 June 2023. Widespread showers are expected over the south-western parts of the Western Cape, otherwise scattered to isolated over the Western and western half of the Eastern Cape. pic.twitter.com/15V4W77Mpo— SA Weather Service (@SAWeatherServic) June 14, 2023
Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said numerous City departments were continuing to alleviate the adverse weather’s impacts, especially around newly blocked stormwater systems.
“Numerous weather-related power outages are being experienced in Philippi, Mfuleni, Newlands, Somerset West, Fish Hoek and Hout Bay.
“The City’s electricity department is working to restore power to the affected areas,” she said.
The City’s recreation and parks department was also at work clearing uprooted trees in Plattekloof, Pinelands, Boston, Parow and Oakdale.
“A number of informal settlements have experienced flooding across the metropole.
“Disaster Risk Management officials and other departments are still continuing with assessments and responses,” Powell said late last night.
On the N2, M5 to Rondebosch turn-off, City workers were knee-deep in water as the road was flooded, causing major traffic delays. The employees who arrived on site in the early hours of the morning were still working around 10am, trying to drain the water off the road.
In Athlone, Klipfontein Road was completely flooded from the Athlone SAPS to the Athlone bridge. Kolnicks Linen factory store was forced to open its doors later than usual. “Our warehouse was flooded,” said store manager Joedee Sysder.
The Jakkalsvlei Canal also burst its banks, causing flooding of the Johnson & Johnson factory in Tokai.
An elderly resident from the Covid informal settlement near Driftsands, Michael Dyakalashe, 76, said he was forced to send his four children to stay with relatives because parts of his home were flooded.
“From the beginning of the week we have been living in fear as the rain continues to pour. Within the duration of this week I was forced to move out of my room and sleep in the dining room because there was water all over the room,” he said.
Gift of the Givers spokesperson Ali Sably said they had started fielding calls from 4am, with residents from various parts of the city appealing for assistance.
“The calls have been pouring in from 4am, and distressed communities from various parts of the Western Cape have been appealing for our assistance. Hundreds of residents are affected, and many homes are completely flooded,” he said.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the Provincial Disaster Risk Management Centre (PDMC) was on high alert, and in continuous contact with all rescue and support stakeholders, including the SAPS, Provincial Emergency Medical Services, City Fire and Rescue Services, and others.
Bredell added that the most significant incidents recorded were flooding downstream of the Wemmershoek Dam, and the Lourens River bursting its banks and affecting the Somerset West Eskom substation.
He said large parts of Overstrand Municipality were also without electricity as a result of electrical pylons collapsing in the mountains surrounding the area.
Bredell added that the PDMC was prepared to deal with further impacts today, into the weekend and next week when more inclement weather was set to move over the province.
However, the severe cold front has brought some good news, with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) informing that the downpours experienced in the Western Cape had resulted in another significant increase in Western Cape storage dams – the total storage for all DWS-monitored dams in the province was at 68.71%.