Port St Johns residents on high alert after heavy downpours stoke fresh fears of severe flooding
Disaster and risk management teams in the Eastern Cape coastal town of Port St Johns were on high alert on Monday as residents feared that heavy rains could cause a repeat of the March 2023 floods.
Residents of villages around Port St Johns left their homes on Monday amid fears of flooding as heavy rains pelted the area. Schools were closed and people began making their way to higher ground as roads and houses started flooding in the afternoon.
OR Tambo District Municipality executive mayor Mesuli Ngqondwana issued a notice to residents cautioning them to remain vigilant.
“The South African Weather Service has issued a warning of expected disruptive rains that could lead to flooding in various places over the district. To ensure that our community members are safe, the disaster and risk management teams are on high alert and have already observed high water levels in parts of Coffee Bay in King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality and the Green’s Farm area in Port St Johns Local Municipality,” the notice continued.
The Green’s Farm area experienced severe flooding earlier this year.
“The executive mayor is urging communities to avoid crossing flooded rivers and lakes and evacuate to high-lying areas where necessary.”
In March this year, about 1,000 people were displaced, and the town’s waterworks and several bridges and roads were destroyed by flooding.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Port St Johns flood crisis leaves more than 1,000 displaced and waterworks, bridges destroyed
On Monday, residents who were hard hit by the previous disaster began evacuating their homes. Schools were also closed early.
One of the residents of Green’s Farm village, Zimkhitha Wole, said she had already moved out of her house.
“Our area is already flooded … I am currently staying with my neighbour. We will move soon to the Youth Centre because it is not safe here. We can’t even walk in all this water,” she said.
“I was a victim of floods earlier this year. It seems like this is happening every year now,” she added.
“We don’t know what we will do tomorrow,” Wole said.
Nzamela Ncoyini from the Gandaganda Residents’ Forum in Port St Johns said the rain has even affected villages outside the town.
“Streets are closed. Many businesses have closed their doors due to flooding.
“People have started gathering at the Youth Centre for their safety. It’s a bad situation and we don’t know what will happen overnight,” she said. DM