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‘Better safe than sorry’ — hundreds of Western Cape schools remain closed over storms threat

‘Better safe than sorry’ — hundreds of Western Cape schools remain closed over storms threat
Massive waves and strong winds at Kalk Bay harbour on 7 April 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Mop-up operations are underway in the Cape after parts of the province were lashed by violent storms.

Schools in the Cape Winelands and Overberg district will remain closed on Tuesday 9 April due to the ongoing bad weather in the Western Cape. This follows school closures on Monday in some parts of the province.

Since the weekend, heavy rains and strong winds have caused havoc on roads and a fire in Fish Hoek on the Cape Peninsula destroyed several homes.

On Monday afternoon, the office of the Western Cape MEC for Education, David Maynier, confirmed the closure of schools for a second day.

This means 281 schools in the Cape Winelands district and 84 schools in the Overberg region will remain closed on Tuesday.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) schools in the Overberg, Cape Winelands and Helderberg were closed on Monday.

Explaining the decision, Maynier said, “We want our children learning and at school, but in light of the level of the warnings, we felt it is better to be safe than sorry”.

The province said the closure on Monday affected 406 schools and nearly 270,000 learners.

The WCED has received reports of storm damage at 132 schools, ranging from minor to serious. The department has said this figure could rise as staff return to schools in the coming days.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fire destroys several Cape Town houses, wild SA weather brings damage and road closures

Higher education institutions such as the Cape Peninsula University of Technology shifted classes online and some staff were permitted to work remotely.

Mop-up begins

On Monday, the Western Cape government said the Cape Winelands district, the Overberg and the West Coast district were hit hardest by this weekend’s strong winds and heavy downpours.

While mop-up operations have begun in many areas, heavy rainfall is expected in the Garden Route district on Monday and Tuesday.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said: “Our first priority as the provincial government is to ensure that we do everything we can to keep our residents safe during this severe storm. We appeal to everyone to please exercise extreme caution and avoid unnecessary travel.

“The dedication and commitment of all our disaster management personnel, on the frontlines and behind the scenes, is remarkable. They have been working flat-out to help residents,” said Winde.

Cape storms

At least nine properties were destroyed or badly damaged in the Sunny Cove area in Fish Hoek by an out of control fire on 7 April, 2024 in Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Power outages

The weather also caused power outages in several towns in the West Coast district, as well as in the Lourensford and Gordon’s Bay areas.

“I am deeply concerned by the impact that the wind has had on electricity infrastructure,” said Winde.

According to Eskom, parts of the electricity network experienced “minor structural damage” which led to a loss of supply to a number of areas.

The affected areas were mainly Beaufort West, Kraaifontein, Khayelitsha, Klawer and surrounding farms, Kylemore, Gordon’s Bay, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Somerset West, Stellenbosch farms and Vredendal.

“The electricity network remains vulnerable as parts of the province continue to experience gale-force winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms,” said a statement from Eskom.

Cape storms

Large waves and strong winds at Kalk Bay harbour as storms lashed the Western Cape. (Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Road closures still in effect

On Monday, Clarence Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els remained closed. The Buffeljagsrivier bridge was also closed.

The Central Karoo district municipality’s DR1484 was closed.

In the City of Cape Town, Chapman’s Peak Drive has not yet reopened. Hout Bay Main Road between Disa River Road and OR Tambo is closed due to ongoing work related to a burst pipe in the area.

Cape Town Traffic Service spokesperson Maxine Bezuidenhout warned the public to be aware of potential hazards related to localised flooding.

In addition, traffic services asked motorists to be cautious as the roads were wet and slippery.

“Also do drive with your headlights on, to increase your visibility to other road users,” added Bezuidenhout.

Gift of the Givers will be deploying teams to various parts of the province after calls had been pouring in since 1am this morning. Areas hardest hit and where Gift of the Givers received the most calls were from the Strand and Somerset West area. Areas they have appealed for assistance thus far include:

  1. Nkanini Khayelitsha
  2. ⁠Nomzamo
  3. ⁠Lwandle
  4. ⁠Sir Lowry Pass Village
  5. ⁠Strand
  6. ⁠Grabow
  7. ⁠Smartie Town Paarl
  8. ⁠Paarl East
  9. ⁠Kayamandi
  10. ⁠Klapmuts
  11. ⁠Kraaifontein
  12. Donkerbos Informal Settlement
  13. ⁠Macassar

DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Agf Agf says:

    The closing of schools for a second day in a row is a ridiculous over reaction. It is perfectly safe for pupils to return in the rain.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

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