Cape hit by ‘biblical’ floods

2013-11-18 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Western Cape suffered what locals called floods of biblical proportions since gales and heavy rains started on Friday night and continued for most of Saturday.

At least three people died, two in Stellen­bosch and one in Heidelberg, while around 20 000 people have been left without a shelter.

Properties in the Strand and Somerset West were the hardest hit with several homes flooded and roads damaged by sudden streams and flooded rivers.

The Knorhoek dam flooded, causing concern downstream to residents in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village just outside Somerset West.

At the Vergelegen Medi-Clinic in Somerset West, 127 patients — including those in intensive care and babies — had to be moved when the Lourens river burst its banks and streamed through the hospital. They were moved to three other hospitals in surrounding towns.

In Hermanus and Worcester several dogs were not so lucky and drowned in their cages at the SPCA, while the floods caused damage to the society’s buildings and equipment.

In the Witzenberg region fruit farmers lost their crops.

In low-lying areas like Albertinia, Gourits and Laingsburg, people are trapped on their farms until the bridges become passable again.

Several farmers in Laingsburg reported that some of their stock had been trapped or swept away in floods. Laingsburg residents said the scope of the floods reminded them of the fatal Laingsburg flood in 1981.

Near Worcester, farm workers gathered on the banks to pray and sing to encourage an old couple who were trapped in the waters in their bakkie. The couple were saved by tractor.

In the Jonkershoek nature reserve at Stellenbosch two women died when their car was washed off a bridge when they tried to escape from a flooding church camp on the island. Their names had not been released yet.

A man (67) from Heidelberg drowned on Saturday after he tried to cross the Slang river.

The rains caused many power interruptions, rock falls and mud slides.

The R44 at Rooiels was closed on Saturday and may only be opened tomorrow after sections of the road were washed away. The Franschhoek pass, Chapman’s Peak toll road and Swartberg pass at Oudtshoorn had also been closed and may re-open tomorrow.

At Strand and Somerset West sections of the N2 were briefly closed on Saturday.

Councillor for the Sea Point area Beverley Schäfer said most interruptions to power supply in the Camps Bay area had already been resolved on Saturday night.

Western Cape disaster management said in a statement on Saturday that several towns in the Overberg had been affected by flooding. Residential areas in Caledon, Gansbaai, Mount Pleasant, Hermanus, Barrydale and Swellendam were affected.

Heavy rains also fell over the Free State and eastern parts of the Northern Cape, including De Aar and Kimberley.

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