Cape Town -
Traffic gridlocks, eight car crashes in just two hours and more than 100 roads flooded marked the start of Cape Town’s big storm weekend.
Emergency Services brought in more staff amid warnings that more rain and plunging temperatures were expected on Saturday.
City authorities issued warnings of flooding in low-lying areas as rain and strong winds began lashing the metropole at about 3.30pm on Friday. Within hours there were reports that 103 roads were flooded.
Traffic out of the city and in several suburbs was gridlocked for hours.
Cape Town traffic services spokeswoman Maxine Jordaan said there were eight accidents from 4pm-6pm on Friday.
No deaths were reported.
City disaster risk management acting head Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said yesterday he had received reports of 103 flooded roads, and that this number was expected to increase overnight.
According to reports on social media, roads were flooded in Ravensmead, Paarden Eiland, Khayelitsha, Belgravia, Durbanville, Heideveld, Wynberg, the city centre, Pinelands and the Strand.
Solomons-Johannes said disaster response teams would work throughout the night, on the alert for residents needing evacuation.
At the time of going to print last night there were confirmed reports the Diep River in Plumstead had burst its banks, while social media users tweeted that the Liesbeek River could also overflow.
The rain brought flooding to parts of the Civic Centre, where mayor Patricia de Lille has her offices.
Chapman’s Peak Drive and the Table Mountain Cableway, meanwhile, were closed for safety reasons before the storm hit yesterday.
The Cape Town Weather Office said there was an 80 percent chance of showers and thundershowers today, with a maximum temperature of 12°C.
The bad weather is expected to continue overnight into Sunday morning, before clearing during the day.
Cold conditions are forecast into next week, with maximum temperatures below 15°C.
Provincial Emergency Medical Services spokesman Robert Daniels said that 65 ambulance crews and three rescue crews were on duty this weekend.
The city has warned of localised flooding in various areas of the Cape Metropole, Overberg, Cape Winelands and South-Western Cape District.
EMS crews from outlying areas have also been put on standby.
Daniels said the province’s non-emergency health transport fleet would help evacuate Capetonians from low-lying areas in the event of flooding.
Last month, nearly 2 000 shacks in low-lying areas were flooded after heavy rain, with Khayelitsha’s TR section, the Phola Park informal settlement in Gugulethu and New Village in Nomzamo hardest hit.
The city handed out thousands of flood kits, blankets and food packs. The disaster risk management centre asked residents to report blocked drains, intakes and illegal dumping.
These blockages can cause water to dam up and increase the risk of flooding in low-lying areas.
As rain caused traffic to come to a standstill yesterday, motorists took to Twitter to air their frustration and warn about areas to avoid.
“Severe flooding on St John’s road in Durbanville Cape Town. Use alternate route,” tweeted @LeeSmeed.
“No one can get out of capetown CBD. Weather has created havoc... done 0 kms in 15 mins,” tweeted city centre worker @byroncpt.
Rough seas with wave heights of 6-7.5m are expected between Cape Point and Plettenberg Bay this afternoon, but are expected to subside tonight.
The cold front will also bring the chance of snowfalls to most of the Western Cape’s mountains, the weather office said, including Table Mountain, an unusual occurrence in the mother city.
- Saturday Argus