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Cold fronts and heavy downpours bring flooding mystery...

South Africa

CAPE FLOODS

In pictures — Heavy ongoing winter downpours cause flooding and power cuts in Cape Town

Homes in Site B Khayelitsha were flooded due to blocked drains. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Ongoing rainfall has caused severe flooding and power outages in parts of the city. As relief efforts get underway across the metro on Tuesday, the cold and wet weather is expected to continue into Wednesday. 

Flooded roads and power outages from heavy rainfall caused havoc in some areas of Cape Town on Tuesday, after a series of cold fronts hit the province. 

There are a number of areas across the metro which are currently experiencing unplanned, weather-related outages, the City of Cape Town tweeted on Tuesday morning. 

“These areas include Eastridge, Bridgetown, Rosebank, Mowbray, Philippi, Zeekoevlei, Mfuleni, Bantry Bay, Philippi West, Pinelands, Langa, Lansdowne, Bonteheuwel, Brooklyn and Parow,” it said, adding that its teams are currently attending to the blackouts. 

Residents of Covid informal settlement, Mfuleni survey the flood damage
Residents in Covid, Mfuleni had their homes flooded due to an overflowing river . Photo Brenton Geach

“There are also planned outages in the Gordon’s Bay, Montana, Kraaifontein, Somerset West, Bellville, Newlands and Blouberg areas. 

This is necessary maintenance work on our electrical infrastructure,” it said.

“The worst-affected areas are informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Ottery, Langa, Strand, Philippi, Gugulethu, Delft, and Vrygrond,” the city said in a statement early on Tuesday, TimesLive reported. “The city’s transport department is providing milling and sand where it is possible to do so, to raise floor levels.”

City of Cape Town disaster management spokesperson, Charlotte Powell, said the City had begun mopping-up operations across the city “amid flooding in informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Ottery, Langa, Strand, Philippi, Gugulethu, Delft, and Vrygrond,” News24 reported.

The Western Cape is experiencing a “series of cold fronts with an upper air trough, that have been dominating since Sunday evening,” senior forecaster at the Cape Town Weather Office, Elani Heyneke told Daily Maverick.

On Tuesday morning, the South African Weather Service tweeted the rainfall amounts for parts of the province from the past 24 hours, from Monday at 8am until Tuesday morning at 8am:

“A further 20-30mm [of rain] can be expected over the south-western parts of the Western Cape, while 5-10mm [is expected] over the rest of the province from Tuesday afternoon until the evening,” Heyneke told Daily Maverick.

“Scattered showers and rain are expected along the south coast on Wednesday, where 10-15mm is possible, otherwise light isolated showers and rain over the rest of the province,” she added. 

Children walk in the floods between houses in Khayelitsha Site B
In the pouring rain children walk between their homes in Site B Khayelitsha which were were flooded due to blocked drains. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

The showers and rain will start to clear from Wednesday afternoon, with no rain in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, Heyneke said. 

Due to the heavy rainfall, a yellow Level-4 weather warning has been issued for parts of the Winelands and the Overberg — including Stellenbosch, Hermanus and Grabow — while the City Cape Town has been issued a yellow Level-3 warning.

Assisting flood victims

Ali Sablay from the Gift of the Givers told Daily Maverick that the NGO’s teams were already on standby to assist flood victims, when the weather warning was issued on 9 June. 

“Every year around this time of the year, our teams are geared up for floods. In February and March we begin preparations in anticipation of flooding during this period,” said Sablay.

A taxi attempts to make its way through the flooded streets of Khayelitsha
Many areas of Khayelitsha were flooded due to the heavy rains. Japhta K Maemola Drive was flooded near Baden Powel Drive. (Photo Brenton Geach)

Cold fronts are not uncommon in the Western Cape at this time of year. In May 2021, persistent rainfall caused severe flooding in parts of the province. 

Sablay added that, since the heavy rainfall began, calls from flood victims in affected areas “have been pouring into” Gift of the Givers offices. 

“Our teams are currently busy in five locations, including Masiphumelele informal settlement in Kommetjie, Nyanga, Kraaifontein, Bishop Lavis, and Ravensmead,” he said.  

Residents in the informal settlement in Covid, Mfuleni had their homes flooded due to a overflowing river. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

“We just received calls from Langa and Gugulethu where a few structures have flooded as well. Our teams are currently on the ground assisting the flooded victims with warm meals and blankets,” added Sablay. 

Sablay said that with the relentless rainfall, Gift of the Givers teams were advising people to stay with family or neighbours, and “go to places of safety” during this time. 

Flooded homes in Site B, Khayelitsha
Homes in Site B Khayelitsha were flooded due to blocked drains. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

“Wherever there is a place of safety being set up for flood victims in need, Gift of the Givers will provide families with mattresses and warm meals,” Sablay told Daily Maverick. 

Tips to stay safe

The City of Cape Town has appealed to residents to, where possible, help reduce flood risk where necessary by: 

  • Clearing out drainage systems;
  • Raising the floor level of a structure so that it is higher than the natural ground level;
  • Making sandbags;
  • Digging trenches around the house to divert water away; and
  • Reporting blocked drains, intakes and illegal dumping (illegal dumping in the stormwater canals and sewers makes flooding worse).

Any weather-related emergencies can be directed to the City of Cape Town’s public emergency communication centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.

The South African Weather Service has also urged people to regularly monitor updates and alerts from its website

For more tips on how to stay safe on the roads during stormy, wet weather, click here. DM

Daily Maverick sent queries to the City of Cape Town on Tuesday morning, but a response was not given by the time of publication. Comment will be added once received. 

A man walks along the N2 in the pouring rain near Khayelitsha. (Photo Brenton Geach)
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  • Why is the City of Cape Town so re-active. Every year we have the same issue where townships streets, homes and business are flooded due to blocked drains. The City needs to put a more aggressive, pro-active strategy in place to assist vulnerable communities – its a disgrace that this happens, year after year. Winter is our rainy season that does not change!

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