Rain, snow and gale-force winds batter Cape
Heavy rain and gale-force wind destroyed 900 shacks in Cape Town and left thousands of people across the Western Cape without power on Saturday.
Trees were uprooted, snow fell heavily in the Ceres area and on other high ground in the province, and Chapman’s Peak Drive was closed.
The NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) said swells of up to nine metres were expected overnight.
Disaster management handed out blankets and food parcels to about 3 500 people who lost their homes in informal settlements in Philippi, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Hout Bay, Phola Park, Masiphumelele, Lotus Park, Wallacedene and Happy Valley, said Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, a spokesman for Disaster Risk Management.
Eskom reported electricity breakdowns in Delft, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Table View and Plattekloof. Several Western Cape towns were without electricity on Saturday, including Somerset West, Grabouw, Caledon, Swellendam, Riversdale, George, Montagu, De Doorns, Worcester, Laingsburg, Beaufort West, Ladismith, Malmesbury, Vredendal, Piketberg, Ceres and Prieska.
Eskom spokesman Malcolm Caswell said unusually strong rain and wind had caused the “unplanned power cuts”.
Last night, Cape Town weather forecaster Nick Koegelenberg said the weather was clearing, but that another cold front would hit the Cape on Tuesday and “it seems it’s going to be severe”.
Jacquiline Pandaram, the director of the Western Cape Disaster Risk Management, said that minor rockfalls had been reported at the Tyger Valley Waterfront.
Trees had been uprooted in Worcester and stormwater drains were blocked in Stellenbosch and Paarl.
Roberto Blaisi from the Haven Night Shelter in District Six said they had between 30 and 50 walk-ins on Saturday night.
“Most of the homeless came in to escape the rain. They usually sleep under bridges or bushes or whatever shelter they can find, but this weekend’s rain and wind was too much for them.
“We provided shelter and meals and blankets to those we could and transferred others when we were full. We expect the numbers to continue to rise until the bitter weather subsides,” Blaisi said.
The Klondyke cherry farm near Ceres reported subzero temperatures in the Matroosberg mountains and heavy snowfalls.
The farm’s Didi de Kock said on Saturday: “Thick snow is falling. We had to postpone a wedding planned for today. We had to tell hikers who wanted to go into the mountain they couldn’t go because it was freezing.
“The wind was pumping the whole night, but there was no rain. Yesterday at 6am it started raining and it turned to snow from 8am,” De Kock said.