Western Cape 'prepares for the worst' as major storm approaches

2017-06-06 15:55
Heavy rains leading to flooding is expected. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Heavy rains leading to flooding is expected. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The Western Cape Disaster Management centre has been activated and the South African National Defence Force has been placed on standby as the provincial government prepares for a major cold front approaching the province.

"Disaster Management are preparing for the worst, as they are required to do. In this instance, we [are] on the side of caution to ensure all necessary preparations are in place," provincial government spokesperson Micheal Mpofu said in a statement on Tuesday.

The disaster centre will be linked to the City of Cape Town's Law Enforcement Team, the South African Police Service (SAPS) joint operations centre, Provincial Traffic, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Health Emergency Centres.

The South African Weather Service issued a severe weather warning for flash flooding, hail, and gale force winds in the Western Cape on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

High wind speeds between 70km/h to 90km/h are possible, with rainfall of up to 50mm within 24 hours in certain areas.

READ: Western Cape schools to be closed on Wednesday as monster storm looms

High risk areas

The Western Cape Education department cancelled all schools in anticipation of the storm, saying the decision was taken to ensure the safety of learners and staff.

The University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology would also close its doors for the day, in light of the decision by the education department.

Mpofu said the provincial government strongly advised members of the public to stay off the roads and remain indoors.

"The work of the emergency rescue services will also be made easier if the roads are clear of unnecessary traffic," he said.

Cape Point and the Table Mountain cable car have also been closed.

The City of Cape Town said precautions are being taken in high risk areas.

"We have identified informal settlements, such as Masiphumelele, which is in a wetland, [and therefore] very vulnerable for flooding.

"Areas such as Gugulethu and Khayelitsha are also in wetlands. They are all priority areas for disaster relief," City of Cape Town's disaster spokesperson Charlotte Powell said.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott told News24 that rail commuters have been alerted about possible delays due to the storm.

"The Southern line close to the coast will most likely be affected by the storm. Trees falling over can possibly damage electrical cables which will also lead to delays," she said.

"In the past, we've also seen dam walls in areas such as Stellenbosch break causing major delays, but due to the drought I doubt this will occur again."

City of Cape Town mayoral committee for safety and security JP Smith said the city's non-profit partners are on standby to provide disaster relief aid.

They provide humanitarian relief such as hot meals, food parcels, blankets, clothing, baby packs and vanity packs for males and females, Smith said.

"The city will communicate details of any donation drives that may be required," he said.

Climate scientist and researcher Dr Peter Johnston said the first rain is expected to arrive after dark on Tuesday.

“The freezing levels are about 1300m which means the high Boland mountains may receive snow during the afternoon [on Wednesday],” he said.

“The high spring tide - it's almost full moon - will be at 14.30 [on Wednesday] and this, plus swells of up to 16m, may cause coastal inundation.”

He recommends that Capetonians clear out storm water drains and gutters, stay off the roads, remain indoors, do not venture up the mountain, refrain from going out to sea and not park vehicles near tall trees.

Read more on:    metrorail  |  cape town  |  weather  |  floods

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