Downpours and gales wreak havoc across Western Cape over the heritage weekend
‘I’m not sure where we’re going to sleep tonight, everything, including the bed, is soaked’ said a 7de Laan resident in Sandvlei, Cape Town.
Intense rainfall during a storm in the Western Cape generated devastation overnight on Sunday, wreaking havoc on homes, roads, and infrastructure.
This comes after the South African Weather Service issued a Level 9 warning on Sunday, indicating that the impact of the bad weather would be severe.
Extensive flooding, thunderstorms, gale-force winds and rough seas lashed the Western Cape. While the Gift of the Givers delivered some relief, many residents were left drenched, their homes swamped. This was the second heavy storm to hit the Western Cape in a week.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Two dead after high winds and wild seas wreak havoc on Eastern and Western Cape coasts
The excessive rain overnight on Sunday caused major flooding in informal settlements including Shukushukuma, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, Rasta Camp, Riemvasmaak, 7de Laan in Sandvlei, Macassar, Old Faure Road in Driftsands, Mfuleni and Bellville South.
City of Cape Towh Councillor JP Smith announced on his Facebook page that there had been flooding in the Faure area and at Vergenoegd farm outside Worcester. Fire and Rescue was at the scene, but residents had taken it upon themselves to evacuate. In the Broadlands area, Fire and Rescue evacuated six people.
Prelene Cedras (52), a resident of 7de Laan and mother of two seven-year-old twins and a nine-month-old toddler, told Daily Maverick that no one had come to their rescue. She had merely been handed forms.
“Nothing is really happening that seems to be helping us. I live with four people in my house and at this point it’s not a home. We’ve been up since 3am and since then the water has been rising and rising,” said Cedras.
“I’m not sure where we’ll sleep tonight. Everything, even the bed, has become wet and I am standing in a puddle of water while I speak to you. The only dry clothes we have are the ones we’re wearing, otherwise, everything is soaked,” she said.
“The only engagement I’ve had thus far is forms from the disaster management officials. But I am sick of filling forms, nothing is really happening. All we ever ask is a piece of dry land to place our shacks because this disaster of floods will happen annually,” said Cedras.
Emile van Zyl Pelser, the owner of Woodpeckers Tree Services in Grassy Park, Cape Town, said strong winds had blown down trees on to people’s houses, which they had to cut down. The damage to homes was visible, but fortunately no one had been injured.
Flooding was also reported in several other areas, including Franschhoek, Durbanville, Bo-Kaap, Schaapkraal, Belhar, Strand, Gordon’s Bay, and Knorhoek.
Torben Martens, a resident of Franschhoek, which falls under Stellenbosch Municipality, told Daily Maverick the weather had been horrific.
“This storm was bad, on a scale of 10, I would say 8. Well, we have lost a lot of property, thousands worth of property, and the water affected the foundation of the house. My hands are dirty as we speak, there is mud everywhere.”
Some areas inaccessible to aid workers
Spokesperson and Western Cape project coordinator of Gift of the Givers, Ali Sablay, said teams had been activated to assist Western Cape, Theewaterskloof and Cape Agulhas disaster risk management teams.
“Since early this morning, municipalities and community people have been pleading with us for immediate assistance as houses have been flooded, communities have been evacuated. The Bot River has burst its banks and parts of the N2 have been washed away, leaving a trail of destruction.”
However, “the team that was dispatched to provide aid was turned back because some of the areas are inaccessible,” said Sablay.
“Bredasdorp has been particularly heavily struck, with many homes flooded and structures washed away in the informal settlements.”
Charlotte Powell, head of the City of Cape Town’s disaster management, said among the incidents reported to the City’s Disaster Operations Centre emergency services were four people trapped in a house in Strand, who had to be evacuated to the Strand Fire station.
“The roof was blown off a private property in the CBD, while a Nutec dwelling in Hout Bay was also damaged due to wind, [and] flooding has been reported across the city with the N2 at Victoria Road in Strand being severely affected,” said Disaster Risk Management Centre spokesperson Sonica Lategan.
The impact of the storm extends beyond flooding. Reports indicate extensive damage caused by uprooted trees which led to road closures in several neighbourhoods, including Hout Bay, Macassar and Rondebosch East, posing additional challenges to residents and emergency responders, according to the city.
City of Cape Town Traffic Services spokesperson Kevin Jacobs said officers were attending to several road closures caused by the storm.
The following roads have been closed:
- Baden Powell Drive between Capricorn and Strandfontein Road;
- Philip Kgosana Drive incoming at Nelson Mandela Boulevard;
- Milton Road between Townsend Road and Jakes Gerwel Drive;
- Granger Bay Boulevard between Helen Suzman Boulevard and Fritz Sonnenberg Road;
- Bottelary Road between Botfontein Road and the R304;
- Gordon’s Bay Main Road between Broadlands Road and Onverwacht Street; and
- Chapman’s Peak’s Drive between Hout Bay and Noordhoek.
Cape Winelands District Municipality Disaster Management division confirmed that numerous roads had been closed:
- N1 at Orchard/Sandhills: All traffic is being diverted from the section between Worcester and Touws Rivier, to travel via Ceres;
- R62 between Robertson and Worcester;
- Franschhoek Pass: Closed to all traffic on both sides.
- Breede Valley: Slanghoek, Doringrivier, Moddergat, Lemoenpoort, De Hoek and Orchard
- Drakenstein/Stellenbosch: Kromme Rhee, Elsenberg, Klapmuts Simondium, Main Road Franschhoek, Robertsvlei and Distillery roads.
- Langeberg: Ouplaas Road
Swellendam updates: The MR264 Bredasdorp Swellendam closed on both sides, including the MR261 Bredasdorp Struisbaai, the MR262 Bredasdorp Elim (Elim cut off, gravel roads are bad) and the MR1205 Struisbaai also cut off.
City of Cape Town response
Disaster Risk Management Centre spokesperson Lategan said the city had all its emergency teams on the ground and had also activated its disaster coordinating team.
“I must also mention that it is difficult with the conditions that we are experiencing at the moment, so we are trying to prioritise the incidents that the teams can attend to,” she said.
“There are a lot of settlements that have been impacted overnight. Eight informal settlements have been impacted, and nine formal settlements, including the Strand area where people had to be evacuated from a house in the early morning, as well as a retirement home called Storm Haven in Somerset West that was being evacuated,” she said.
Read More in Daily Maverick: Get ready for another 52 weeks of heavy load shedding as Eskom forecasts dark days ahead
On Monday, 25 September, Eskom’s Western Cape spokesperson Kyle Cookson announced severe damage to the energy infrastructure across the Western Cape as a result of several faults caused by extreme weather conditions.
Load shedding will be suspended immediately in some regions to ensure safe power restoration. In other areas, Stage 3 load shedding will continue until further notice, said Cookson.
About 82,000 customers across the Western Cape are without power. Parts of the Western Cape continue to experience gale-force winds, heavy rain and flooding, and thunderstorms.
There are major challenges in Khayelitsha and the Boland and the Overberg regions. In Khayelitsha alone, about 43,000 customers are without electricity.
In the Overberg, just over 10,500 customers are without power and six feeders for the Overstrand Municipality are affected.
Worcester and surrounding Boland towns are also affected due to the challenges at the Hammanshof major infeed.
In all these areas, severe flooding and strong gale-force winds are a challenge for Eskom technicians, preventing them from accessing network faults. Significant safety risks are preventing them from going ahead with some restoration operations. Eskom will monitor the situation closely and resume restoration efforts as soon as it is safe. DM