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CAPE OF STORMS

At least eight people confirmed dead following devastating weekend of torrential rains and floods

At least eight people confirmed dead following devastating weekend of torrential rains and floods
The N2 was closed for hours due to fallen trees on 25 September 2023 in Grabouw, South Africa. Disaster management officials have been working through the night, with several reports flooded roads, damaged homes, uprooted trees and power outages. (Photo: Benton Geach/Gallo Images)

Clean-up operations continued on Tuesday after extensive rainfall left a trail of destruction over the long weekend. It's a 'once-in-a-hundred-year flood,' said Western Cape premier Alan Winde.

The intense rainfall and wind over the long weekend caused massive damage that dented the economic activity of the Western Cape while leaving many residents in devastation. The storms caused extensive downpours, thunderstorms, flooding and rockfalls. 

It forced the closure of major roads leading into Cape Town and beyond. The intense rainfall in the Western Cape generated devastation overnight on Sunday.

Anton Bredell, provincial minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, confirmed that eight people had died as a result of storm-related incidents. Specific details of the circumstances were not immediately available. Elsewhere, News24 reported that eight people were electrocuted.

The weather affected residents, property and activity in their areas, affecting over 1,400 structures in informal settlements and displacing many others in some locations. 

Western Cape storms

Flooded homes on 25 September 2023 in Sandvlei, South Africa. Disaster management officials have been working through the night, with several reports flooded roads, damaged homes, uprooted trees and power outages. (Photo: Benton Geach/Gallo Images)

The extensive rainfall overnight on Sunday and Monday forced several rivers to break their banks, destroying infrastructure, causing electricity outages and flooding homes and farmland.

It 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.

Read More in Daily Maverick: Downpours and gales wreak havoc across Western Cape over the heritage weekend

In Tuesday’s media lunchtime briefing held virtually to update on the Western Cape Government’s disaster management activities following the terrible storm over the heritage weekend, premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde said he was relieved that the storm was over and that slowly things will be moving back to normal. 

Western Cape storms

The R60 reopened this morning. The Nuy river overflowed trapping people in Robertson on 26 September 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

A thumbnail of the havoc to date

  • Nagwag in Theewaterskloof: 11 people evacuated and placed in the community hall.
  • Greyton/Genadendal: Over 200 people have been evacuated and relocated to Madiba Park.
  • Riviersonderend: There are around 150 families (approximately 600 people) in the informal settlement and backyard dwellers that require blankets and food parcels.

See the story in photos here: Cape of Storms – capturing the wild weather from Kalk Bay to Simon’s Town 

  • Grabouw: 50 people displaced currently in Thusong Centre and 40 at Soul Food Hall. There are about 300 families left without shelter and are in need of blankets and food.
  • Villiersdorp: 250 families affected and are in need of shelter, blankets, raincoats, mattresses, water, food parcels, warm readymade food, clothing, sanitary/bathroom packs.
  • Botriver 145 families affected, in need of blankets, food and toiletries.
  • Caledon, approx. 500 families affected, in need of food and blankets.
  • Myddleton and Tessies: there are about 400 families affected and the situation is being monitored.
  • Cape Agulhas Municipality: There are 25 families that were displaced and accommodated with temporary housing.

According to preliminary assessments from the disaster management team’s report, the Cape Winelands Education District, Overberg Education District, and Metro East Education District have been the most severely hit.

16 schools have closed as a result of the storm, largely due to an inability to access the school grounds.

  • Cape Winelands Education District, Overberg Education District and Metro East Education District were the worst affected.
  • 152 schools have reported varying levels of structural damage.
  • 242 schools have reported that they have been affected by the storm – including low learner attendance.

Winde said: “I want to say that I want to be assertive that we’re planning to rebuild strong structures around the province that will be able to withstand such incidents. It will be expensive, but we are aiming to reduce the costs in the future. It’s a once-in-a-hundred-year flood. We have too much rain right now, but we’ll soon be under pressure from not having enough, so we’re still dealing with it. The focus is now on prevention, safety, and saving lives where possible,” said Winde. DM

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