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Downpours and gales wreak havoc across Western Cape over the heritage weekend

Downpours and gales wreak havoc across Western Cape over the heritage weekend
Downpours in the Western Cape caused havoc for motorists on Chapman‘s Peak as well as further afield in Bredasdorp and Cape Agulhus. (Photos: Supplied)

‘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.

western cape storm

Major highways including the N2 at Bot River were flooded on 25 September 2023. (Photo: Shirley Pretorius / Facebook)

western cape storm

Flooding after heavy rain on the N2 at Bot River. (Photo: Supplied)

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.

western cape storm

An oak tree outside St George‘s Cathedral, Cape Town was uprooted by the fierce winds last night. Part of the fence was smashed under the weight of the falling tree. The cathedral interior was also flooded in parts. (Photo: Facebook / Michael Weeder)

western cape storm

St George‘s Cathedral verger Gregory Coetzee investigates an uprooted tree. (Photo: Facebook / Michael Weeder)

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.

Massive devastation 

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.

western cape storm

Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for local government, urged residents of the Western Cape to be cautious after heavy downpours. (Photo: Demi-Lee Seger)

Road closures and flooding affected parts of Greyton following heavy rainfall overnight. (Photo: Demi-Lee Seger)

“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.

The severe storm hit the coastline, including at Cape Agulhas where rescue services were called out on 25 September 2023. (Photo: Cape Agulhas Municipality)

western cape storm

The heavy storm caused serious damage to roads and homes. This image is of some destruction in Cape Agulhas. (Photo: Cape Agulhas Municipality)

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 

Low-tide waves along the Kalk Bay harbour on 25 September 2023. (Photo: Kyra Wilkinson)

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.

Minor roads:

  • 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


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • mjhauptstellenbosch says:

    this will show global warming who is the boss!!

    • Willem Boshoff says:

      what do you mean? a key prediction of climate change is higher variability and more extreme weather events (i.e. warmer heat waves; colder cold spells; more flooding; worse droughts etc.) The Western Cape, one of the predicted hotspots, have seen exactly that the last 5 years.

    • Marianne McKay says:

      I assume you mean “This will show global warming is the boss”.

    • Bradley Bergh Bergh says:

      A pretty powerful point by Kalle Crafton (Freelance Creative Director):

      I want to talk about the poor marketing of climate change for the last 30 years.

      1. The planet isn’t in danger; we are in danger
      2. The planet has been through worse; we have not.
      3. It’s not being obsessed with nature; it’s being obsessed with surviving
      4. It shouldn’t be “do you care about the environment?” It should be “do you care about your environment?”
      5. It’s not global warming; it’s forced climate transformation.
      6. It’s not controversial; it’s currently happening, measurably. As predicted.
      7. The planet doesn’t care if we step up and heroically change course, it’ll be fine. We won’t be.
      8. The most nationalistic, selfish thing to do is ensure our power and health is to keep the oil in the ground; it also happens to be the most globalistic and humanitarian thing to do as well.
      9. Scientists aren’t begging us to do anything; they are just looking out the window and telling us the forest is on fire, and holding the blinds open so we can see.
      10. The climate isn’t an issue. It’s the one issue that contains every single other issue.

      What’s my point? Language matters when forming the most important argument in human history.

  • louis viljee says:

    George’s oak tree? The photos show a eucalypt and something else?

  • What a shocking article. Gutter press at its absolute best. Disaster Management teams have been working flat out to coordinate efforts to manage this massive disaster. No mention is made of the teams, on the ground, who have been running around flat out to attend to problems. They worked their arses off attending to more problems than they had staff, prioritising the problems and trying to at least, partially repair them, and move on to the net.

    How about your reporter mentioning these teams and giving them thanks

    Also to the Eskom staff who worked flat out to restore power to 80000+ houses that lost power. They managed to get 35000 back and working. NO mention?

    Stop the drama woke reporting and lets see some positive factual reporting.

  • Julian Chandler says:

    Just waiting to see how the DA blames this one on the ANCs failures.

  • David Crossley says:

    It will be interesting to see how quickly and efficiently the Western Cape Government handles the repairs and rebuilding of the damage. It will be a good measure of how effective local government is compared to that of KZN which has yet to repair all the damage from over a year ago.

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