Another cold front hits Cape Town, prompts further fears of flooding in low-lying areas

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 People fetching their belongings from their waterlogged homes at an Informal Settlement in Bloekombos , Kraaifonteni.
People fetching their belongings from their waterlogged homes at an Informal Settlement in Bloekombos , Kraaifonteni.
(Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)
  • Another cold front is lashing parts of the Western Cape, including Cape Town.
  • Disaster risk officials remain on high alert to assist residents worst affected by the storm.
  • The public has been urged to stay away from rivers across the province as most are flooded.

Disaster risk officials are on high alert as another cold front hit Cape Town on Saturday.

Heavy rains caused havoc across the Western Cape since the start of this week, with roads and thousands of homes, mostly in informal settlements flooded, trees uprooted and damage caused to homes and infrastructure.

The worst affected areas are informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Phillipi, Mfuleni, Langa, Masiphumelele, Dunoon, Strand and Hout Bay. Disaster Risk Management spokesperson, Charlotte Powell, said their teams would continue with assessments throughout the city.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, Anton Bredell, said further flooding was expected in low-lying areas as of Saturday.

"The additional rainfall on top of a very wet week may cause more flooding since the ground is near saturation point in most areas. Areas downstream of already swollen rivers may also be at risk of flooding," Bredell warned.

The public is urged to stay away from rivers across the province with most already flooded and more rain expected.

Bredell added:

Rivers are swollen and fast moving and pose a real danger to the public when they are in close proximity. The storm has caused some damage to public infrastructure across the province, in particular the Zwelethemba bridge in Worcester which remains closed to the public.

The MEC said the bridge had not collapsed, but had been damaged by raging flood water.

"Engineers are working on addressing the problem as fast as possible. An alternate, temporary roadway has already been set up towards the Robertson road to provide people from Zwelethemba with access to the town," Bredell said.

Authorities cautioned motorists to drive with great caution over the weekend as roads may be damaged and storm rubble could be found in roads across the province.

Bredell said municipalities were mopping up as speedily as they could, but warned that the storm was not yet over.

According to the MEC, all indications were that the major dams in the province were filling up rapidly - Theewaterskloof Dam was at 93% and Clanwilliam Dam at 55%.

On Monday these dams were measured at 79% and 23% respectively.

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town said about 70% of all new unlawfully occupied areas could not be serviced, and feasible flood mitigation was not possible due to the low-lying terrain, including floodplains, wetlands and waterlogged areas.

The City said:

Some of the land that has been occupied is situated in dams or is privately owned. Many of the flooding hotspots are in the recently occupied areas such as in Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Dunoon and Khayelitsha. The spike in unlawful occupations since the start of the March 2020 Covid-19 lockdown is causing severe challenges on the ground.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said: "The City has consistently advised residents of the health and safety risks associated with the unlawful occupation of unsuitable low-lying, flood prone and waterlogged land. There are simply no feasible engineering solutions for some of the areas. The City will continue to assist where it is possible to do so."

The City said it continued to work on obtaining aid from relief organisations and the South African Social Security Agency.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: "A number of city departments, including Informal Settlements Management, Roads and Stormwater and Disaster Risk Management, continue to do their utmost to help residents by constructing canals to lead flood water away from affected areas where possible and monitoring high risk priority areas on a daily basis to determine flooding risks and occurrences, while giving advice to residents on how to reduce risks."

The South African Weather Services (SAWS) predicted between 10mm and 20mm of rain for the south-western parts of the province, including Cape Town's metro region.

 

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