Western Cape schools to reopen in spite of storm damage at 29 institutions

In Khayelitsha, 4 000 people were affected with numbers expected to have climbed since Sunday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

In Khayelitsha, 4 000 people were affected with numbers expected to have climbed since Sunday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 9, 2024


While Western Cape schools are set to reopen today for the start of the third term, 29 institutions have reported damage including minor flooding after violent winds and torrential rain left a trail of destruction around the province.

According to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), three schools reported serious damage after roof sheets were blown off by strong gusts of wind in the West Coast region.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department was assessing the damage and was in contact with the schools to determine its needs and arrangements for continued teaching and learning.

“The WCED has consulted with the South African Weather Service and provincial disaster management committee and can confirm that all schools are to officially open. Requests for closure, due to inaccessibility of roads, may be considered for individual schools pending damages incurred overnight by heavy rainfall.

“While the weather conditions will improve for the reopening of schools, particularly the wind conditions, it is envisaged that it will still be a dark and wet start to the school term. The WCED will continue to monitor the situation, in discussion with the provincial disaster management committee, and will communicate with schools if necessary,” said Hammond.

She urged the public to refrain from spreading false information that schools in some districts will remain closed.

The South African Weather Service has indicated that a series of cold fronts were expected, with cold to very cold, showers, thundershowers and windy conditions over most areas.

Provincial government officials and municipalities were conducting assessments as the City of Cape Town, Overberg, Cape Winelands and West Coast Districts reported being the hardest hit by the severe weather at the weekend.

In Khayelitsha, 4 000 people were affected with numbers expected to have climbed since Sunday.

Human settlements mayco member Carl Pophaim said assessments by their informal settlements management department were ongoing to determine the number of affected people.

“The City’s human settlements, basic services, Disaster Risk Management, Safety and Security teams, and NGO partners, among others, have worked tirelessly over the past few days to assist residents with soft relief, milling material and relocations where it has been feasible to do so,” said Pophaim.

Damage was also reported in Dunoon, Kalk Bay, Masiphumelele, Philippi, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, Overcome Heights, Mfuleni and Mitchells Plain.

Cederberg Municipality mayor Dr Ruben Richards said efforts were under way to evacuate residents from flood-prone areas in Citrusdal, the most vulnerable town.

“These residents are being accommodated and provided for in our Municipal halls. Additionally, a rescue team has been dispatched to assist the Wupperthal area, which is currently cut off from the main towns. The reef in Lamberts Bay has been eroded and is now closed. In the coastal towns of Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay, some roofs have been blown off, but fortunately, no lives have been lost. Clanwilliam has experienced minor flooding, and some toilets in the informal settlement have been washed away, but no loss of life has been reported.

“The weather forecast indicates that more severe weather is expected with three cold fronts anticipated to bring additional rain and water. We are fully prepared to address the situation,” said Richards.

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell they were working with the City and the national Department of Human Settlements to address the immediate needs of people who have lost their homes during the storms.

“Widespread disruptions and damages including loss of shelter in informal settlements, localised flooding, fallen trees, electricity outages, and road closures due to snow or flooding, were reported during our meeting today. As always, our focus remains on the safety of our residents and the humanitarian support that they need,” said Bredell.

Cape Times