Citrusdal cut off from the rest of the world after heavy floods wash away part of the R303

Published Jun 17, 2023


Johannesburg - Disaster strikes as Citrusdal is cut off from the rest of the world after heavy floods caused a sinkhole on the R303 close to the Olifants River.

Disaster management team helicopters are in continuous rotation, providing aid to the affected towns.

A joint operation between the Cederberg Municipality, the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management, the SANDF and other groups is under way following the floods which have caused extreme damage.

The damage to power lines has left various areas without electricity and water infrastructure is also said to be under severe pressure, leaving little to no water in some areas, while hundreds of people are said to be displaced.

Cederberg Municipality municipal manager Gerrit Matthyse said: “As Cederberg municipality, we are currently working with the West Coast district municipality and Western Cape government in order for us to declare this as a disaster area due to the impact and the scale of the damage of the floods thus”

Matthyse has also highlighted other concerns, including the severe impact on the agricultural sector as this was meant to be harvest season and this impacts farmers and farm worker incomes and work flows, among other things.

“This will also have an impact on services that we are providing as the municipality that's why we are working closely together with the national government, provincial government, and the district to find short to medium-term solutions,” said Matthyse.

The Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management and the SANDF have provided helicopters that are delivering aid to Citrusdal and Vredendal, which were the first towns to be affected by the sinkhole.

The Gift of the Givers has also come on board in assisting to provide essential supplies, including fleece blankets, plastic coveralls, bottled water, bread, non-perishable food items and hygiene packs.

Matthyse added: “Normally we are used to this type of weather and this type of flooding at the end of winter like July/August. This time it hit us at the beginning of winter, so it looks like we are in for a very long winter.”

More rainfall is expected over the weekend.

Meanwhile, other parts of the Western Cape have also been severely affected by heavy flooding, despite the Western Cape Government and emergency services’ preparations to mitigate the impact of the prolonged harsh cold fronts expected during this winter.

“The numbers of affected individuals are rising rapidly. Thousands of blankets, mattresses, sleeping bags, plastic coveralls, hygiene packs, fortified peanut paste and nutritionally enriched Genesis cereal will be required, in addition to new clothing, food parcels, stationery and building material. Wuppertal, Tsitsikamma and many other areas are joining the queue of distressed communities affected by the incessant rain and freezing cold,” said Gift of the Givers.