Residents gathered to watch raging floodwaters near the Bergsig bridge in Laingsburg, in the Western Cape, following heavy rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday. Image: Laingsburg Tourism.

Laingsburg mayor Wilhelm Theron says the cost of repairs and reconstruction to affected areas in the small town will run into millions of rand.

The little town in the Great Karoo has been battered by torrential rains, thunderstorms and hail since Tuesday. By Friday, the bad weather had abated and a sense of panic – prompted by fears that the situation could turn into a repeat of the 1981 flood that killed 104 people – had died down.

Theron said that,

while a damage assessment was under way and should be completed by tomorrow, the town was “doing much better”.

He said that no further rescues were were needed yesterday. But roads, fences, power lines and cables would all need to be repaired.

In a statement, Disaster Management said that damage to the town’s infrastructure included a sewerage plant that had needed to be repaired as well as a water pipeline.

Water was being provided by tankers to affected communities.

No health challenges had resulted from the flooding.

The heavy rains had affected the Central Karoo, Cape Winelands and Overberg regions, among others.

“Damage to agricultural land, crop losses, disruption to harvesting and hail was experienced, of which the extent still needs to be determined,” said Disaster Management officials. The area would undergo assessments in the coming weeks to determine whether a “disaster declaration” could be made.

The Laingsburg Municipality has scheduled a local disaster management advisory forum on January 16 to reflect on the flooding and revise the municipal contingency plan.

“Although the municipality is able to handle most of the challenges, we’re unable to restore the entire infrastructure and put preventive measures in place and mitigate the effects of future floods in Laingsburg.

“Financial aid is needed to build resilience and enable the municipality to limit the effects of flooding in our area because it can’t be prevented,” it said.

Weekend Argus