Patients evacuated from Cape hospital as rains cause river to burst its banks

2013-11-16 09:56

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Patients at a hospital in Somerset West, Cape Town, were evacuated after a nearby river burst its banks.

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon said rescue teams were called out to evacuate the Vergelegen Medi-Clinic at 9.30pm yesterday.

Persistent rain had caused the Lourensford River to burst its banks.

NSRI teams were called from other towns and brought sea rescue vehicles and jet-skis.

On social media, Twitter showed nurses pushing stretchers down a hospital corridor through knee-deep water. A flooded Vergelegen Medi-Clinic. Picture: Hetta Saunderson via @JulianJansen/Twitter By 2.30am today, most patients and staff had been evacuated.

Lambinon said the NSRI also rescued nine people near the Hottentots Holland High School.

They were safely transported from the roofs of their flooded homes to higher ground.

“During the operation, (the) NSRI witnessed major flooding of residential and business areas of the Somerset West area and flooding of roads with some areas where even street stop signs were buried under water,” Lambinon said.

Disaster risk management officials were providing shelter for those affected, restoring electricity, draining water systems and assessing damage to buildings and roads.

The provincial health emergency medical services team was helping with the treatment and wellbeing of the evacuated hospital patients and those caught in car accidents because of flooding.

“The NSRI remains on high alert around the Western and Southern Cape to assist the emergency services in affected areas as the severe weather front moves east,” Lambinon said.

Yesterday, disaster management centre director Schalk Carstens said the province was on high alert for heavy rainfall at the weekend.

The SA Weather Service said heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding was expected for last night and today.

The areas at risk were the southern parts of the West Coast, western parts of the central Karoo, the Cape Metropole, Overberg, the Cape Winelands and Eden districts.

Lambinon urged people to stay away from the sea because of rough conditions.

“The approaching full moon spring tide is also now in effect. Coupled with the rough sea conditions, this means extremely strong rip currents and rough, high seas will be experienced over the coming days. Shoreline anglers and bathers are also urged to exercise extreme caution along with the boaters and paddlers around the coast.”

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