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Western Cape warned of further weather chaos as rescue teams battle hazardous conditions 

Western Cape warned of further weather chaos as rescue teams battle hazardous conditions 
The South African National Roads Agency has warned road users that due to adverse weather conditions that resulted in mudslides and rockfalls, the Huguenot Tunnel is currently closed to all traffic from Worcester towards Cape Town. (Photo: Nathi Qondile)

More rain to come as clean-up operations are underway in the Western Cape following heavy rains over the past two days, with various municipalities, Eskom and road authorities stepping in to assist communities dramatically affected by flooding, power outages and dam bursts. 

“We are asking the public to prioritise safety for the next couple of days and to report any flooding, or people in need in their communities, to their local authority,” said Anton Bredell, the Western Cape MEC for Local Government as clean up operations are underway in parts of the province following heavy rain. 

On Thursday 15 June, Bredell said the provincial government’s primary focus was protecting human lives, followed by providing humanitarian support. This follows extensive rain and wind across the province that has and continues to affect large parts of the province. 

Cape Town weather

Flooding has persisted in and around Cape Town due to heavy rainfall this week. (Photo: Nathi Qondile)

On Wednesday, heavy rains left communities seeking assistance from the City of Cape Town and various non-governmental organisations following flooding. Train services were also suspended on some railway lines after a fallen tree caused signal disruptions. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Roads, rail, power and homes disrupted as torrential rain and winds batter Cape Town and surrounds

Bredell said teams were also working across the province to reopen roads and restore services that were affected by the weather. 

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) confirmed the closure of the Huguenot Tunnel from Worcester towards Cape Town due to rockfalls and mudslides. 

 The Huguenot Tunnel is currently closed to all traffic from Worcester towards Cape Town. Vehicles are being granted passage northbound from Cape Town in the Worcester direction. Photo:Nathi Qondile

“Heavy storms during the night have resulted in a rock- and mudslide near the Eastern Truck Check Station, blocking the N1 direction Cape Town,” said the agency on Thursday, adding, “all vehicles from Worcester side are being diverted to alternative routes. Du Toitskloof Pass is also affected by rock- and mudslides and Provincial Traffic is on hand to divert traffic elsewhere.” 

Eskom relief efforts

On Thursday, power utility Eskom said they were working tirelessly to restore electricity supply to areas affected by the rain. Some affected areas include West Coast municipalities such as Cederberg, Swartland, Drakenstein and Matzikama. 

Bredell added that Eskom managed to restore power to Somerset West after a substation was flooded yesterday. “Work to restore power to the Overstrand area, due to damaged power pylons in the mountainous areas, is continuing,” he added. 

Cape town floods, flooding

The Admiral’s Waterfall in Simon’s Town. Photo Brenton Geach

 

Municipal efforts 

Bredell added more than 1,000 people were displaced in Rawsonville and were assisted with alternative accommodation. “The Cape Winelands District Municipality has stepped in to support the humanitarian effort in this regard,” he said. 

In the City of Cape Town, Charlotte Powell from the Disaster Risk Management Centre said various departments were continuing to engage in efforts to attend to weather-related power outages, flooded roadways and uprooted trees. The City received reports of a house wall that collapsed in Vredehoek. At Melomed Private Hospital in Tokai, the Keyser River burst its banks and caused a flood, which the City was attending to. 

“A farm dam burst in Joostenberg Vlakte, which caused flooding of some surrounding properties,” said Powell. 

“The City’s services are doing everything possible to deal with the impacts of the weather, but intermittent rainfall is a challenge,” she said and added, “The five-day forecast indicates that more rain is in the offing, although we await confirmation from the SA Weather Service about the forecast and any potential impacts”. 

 

 

cape flooding

Trucks queue on the R101. Trucks were diverted as the N1 was closed due to a mudslide. Photo: Supplied. Photo: Nathi Qondile

Large boulders from the mountain pushed mud onto the N1 at the weigh bridge on the Worcestor side of the tunnel. 15 June 2023. Photo: Nathi Qondile

Rain on Table Mountain 

Babalwa Dlangamandla from the South African National Parks (SANParks) told Daily Maverick that Table Mountain National Park recorded +60mm of rain in the past 24 hours. “Due to localised flooding in and around Table Mountain National Park, dog walkers, hikers, and cyclists are urged to proceed with caution or avoid carrying out their activities due to the current adverse weather conditions we’re experiencing in Cape Town,” she said.

Cape town floods, flooding

The Admiral’s Waterfall  in Simon’s Town. Photo Brenton Geach

Wet weekend

More rain is expected late on Friday into the weekend.The weather service said Wednesday’s cold front was the first in a succession expected to pass through the Cape provinces in the week ahead, on almost a daily basis. Cold, windy conditions with occasional showers will be a “persistent feature of the weather over the southern half of the country, continuing until well after the long weekend”. DM

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