Wind, rain warning issued for Western Cape as more than 6 000 residents deal with flooding

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Heavy rain in Cape Town.
Heavy rain in Cape Town.
(Photo by Gallo Images/Ziyaad Douglas)
  • The SA Weather Service has issued a warning for wind and rainfall in the Western Cape.
  • Winter storms and heavy rains continue to batter the province.
  • Dwellings in various areas have been affected by the stormy weather.

The SA Weather Service (SAWS) has warned of gale force winds, with possible gusts of 100km/h over parts of the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape from Tuesday evening, as well as disruptive rainfall for Cape Town and the Cape Winelands.

Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning, said there was a storm warning of Orange level 8, to indicate the severity of the wind, which could be expected until Thursday.

"The SAWS warns that strong to gale north-westerly winds, with intense gusts (100-140km/h), can be expected over the interior of the province, as well as along the coastal regions between Alexander Bay and Saldanha," he said in a statement. 

The last time the province had an orange level warning for wind was in 2017 before the Knysna wildfires, he said.

"The City of Cape Town is predicted to be missing the worst of the wind. However, the SAWS has issued an Orange level 6 warning for rainfall for the city, conditions that are expected to remain until Thursday evening."

Widespread damage to formal and informal settlements was likely as well as the disruption of essential services.

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"Travelling around the province over the next two days will be increasingly difficult and high-sided vehicles may be at risk of falling over as result of crosswinds. This is a concern on all major motorways, including the N1, N7 and N14."

Bredell says conditions at sea and in smaller coastal harbours may be similarly challenging and dangerous. "We urge that people take precautions and, in case of emergency, reach out to the disaster response teams who remain on standby."

As winter storms and heavy rains continue to batter Cape Town, around 6 300 people have been affected by localised flooding.

The localised flooding in low-lying areas of Cape Town was expected to worsen over the next few days.

Bredell said:

In the central and eastern parts of the metro, more than 2 500 structures – including structures that have been erected illegally in wetlands and stormwater ponds – have been flooded.

He said, in the northern parts of the metro, an assessment found 3 250 structures had been flooded, with an estimated 6 300 people affected.

"Further assessments continue in areas, including Strand and Mfuleni," he added.

Bredell said large amounts of rain had been measured across the province, including 71mm in Geelbek on the West Coast, and 55mm in Ceres. 

"However, lots of rain has fallen and continues to fall in the metro area. The City of Cape Town and its partners are already rolling out support to affected communities. This includes providing milling, hot meals and blankets to affected communities."

The City of Cape Town's Disaster Risk Management Centre said, on Tuesday, it was assessing flood-prone areas across the metro. 

Dwellings in Gugulethu, Wynberg, Valhalla Park, Khayelitsha, Hout Bay, Masiphumulele and Overcome Heights had been affected.  

The City said its assessment found the majority of the flooded areas were situated on land not suitable for habitation, such as wetlands, waterlogged areas, and private land unlawfully occupied.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith said:

More than 70% of the newly occupied areas, mostly as a result of organised large-scale unlawful occupation since the start of the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, have been created on unsuitable, flood-prone land, dams and water retention ponds.

"There are no reasonable engineering flood mitigation measures that can be successfully implemented in these instances, due to the flood-prone nature of the land. Assessments continue and the City will continue to help wherever it is possible to do so."

Smith said the SA Social Security Agency had been informed to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.

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Authorities stressed that the majority of the areas, identified as high flood risk areas at the beginning of the year, were not among the areas affected.

"This shows the interventions by various city departments to reduce flooding, implemented since last year, have had some success," said Smith.

The City added that, due to Covid-19 precautions, it will not be housing affected people in community facilities.

Smith also said that, because of the adjusted Covid-19 regulations, fewer staff were on duty, which caused delays in attending to incidents. 

The City encouraged residents to contact the Public Emergency Communication Centre on 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone for any weather-related emergencies. 

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