Cold, wet reality for Mother City's shack dwellers

2015-06-24 17:59

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management is expecting a tough night on Wednesday as the cold front wraps the Mother City in its grip.

Two sections of Khayelithsa have already been flooded, with 190 structures damaged and almost 800 people affected.

Spokesperson Charlotte Powell told News24 that the City’s team was prepared for the “coming wet days”. 

“So far, no emergency evacuations have yet been done. However, the people in the affected areas have experienced some discomfort,” she said. 

Residents living in informal settlements have been advised to move to higher ground, dig trenches around their homes and waterproof their roofs. 

Oliver Sithole from Gugulethu told News24 he starts preparing for the rainy season in April, “while the weather is still good”. 

“You need to plan in advance. The water is your biggest enemy if you live in a shackland,” he said. 

'Your house becomes a swimming pool'

Last year, he recalled, his feet were submerged in water when he got out of bed for work. 

“It was dark because I don’t have electricity in my home. When I put my feet on the ground to put on my slippers, I just felt water. My slippers were floating near my kitchen area,” the 43-year-old cleaner explained. 

Winter is a nightmare for Sindi Nkosi, who has been living in a shack in the Tsunami informal settlement in Delft for the past ten years. 

“No matter what you do, your house becomes a swimming pool when the rain comes,” the single mother told News24. 

“The water gets this high if it rains for more than an hour,” Nkosi explained, pointing at her ankles. 

'I hate winter'

Community leaders assist families without a father figure to prepare for storms by digging trenches to divert the rainwater and repairing leaking roofs. 

But this is not enough to keep her home dry. 

Her two children “cough and sneeze from May to August”, she said. 

“They are constantly sick. Last year my son got a lung infection because of the conditions in which we live. 

“I hate winter. I do nothing but worry for the entire season.” 

Powell said community centres are made available for those severely affected by flooding, once the go-ahead for evacuation is given by council’s department of human settlements. 

“However, community members usually decline this offer due to security concerns and fears their possessions will be stolen while they are away,” she said.

Read more on:    city of cape town  |  cape town  |  weather  |  flooding

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