Mop-up operations continue in Cape Town after thousands of dwellings damaged by floods

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People fetching their belongings from their flooded homes at an Informal Settlement in Bloekombos , Kraaifontein.
People fetching their belongings from their flooded homes at an Informal Settlement in Bloekombos , Kraaifontein.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
  • The City of Cape Town said the biggest challenge was the newly, unlawfully occupied areas where some large settlements have formed on waterlogged land. 
  • More than 2 000 flooding support packets have been provided so far. 
  • Last week, 6 000 residents were affected by the storm that hit the Western Cape. 

The City of Cape Town has conducted more than 200 on-site assessments so far of flood-affected dwellings in informal settlements after the heavy rainfall over the past week.

The City said the biggest challenge was the newly, illegally occupied areas where some large settlements have formed on extremely waterlogged land, and where flood materials are of no use due to the depth of the flooding.

The mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said the City's informal settlements teams have already handed out more than 2 000 flooding support packets.

"In about 70% of all new unlawfully occupied areas, feasible flood mitigation is not possible due to the low-lying terrain, including floodplains, wetlands and waterlogged areas. In addition, some of the lands that have been occupied are situated in dams or is privately owned.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 01 : People fetchin
Heavy flooding at an informal settlement in Bloekombos , Kraaifontein.

"Many of the flooding hot spots are in the recently occupied areas such as Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Dunoon and Khayelitsha. The spike in unlawful occupations since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March last year is causing severe challenges on the ground, as we can see from the high level of flooding incidents and where they have occurred."

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

Booi lashed out at illegal land occupations, saying those who have political or economic reasons (such as the shack-farming syndicates) enabled and actively drove the large, organised unlawful occupations and they were now nowhere to be found to take responsibility for their actions.

"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 areas, such as those situated in ponds or dams or on privately owned land. The City will continue to assist where it is possible to do so," he said.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 01 : A view of a fl
Extensive damage and flooding at an Informal Settlement in Bloekombos, Cape Town.

Mop-up operations are continuing throughout the Western Cape after heavy rains wreaked havoc across the province last week, with roads and thousands of homes, mostly in informal settlements flooded, trees uprooted, and damage caused to homes and infrastructure.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said there had been no reports of casualties or any missing and injured people.

"The greatest challenges were experienced in the City of Cape Town with many low-lying areas that experienced localised flooding. 

"The City estimates the total number of affected persons at 6 000. A concern is the disruption of stormwater and flood management systems brought about by unlawful land occupation across the City.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 01 : People fetchin
People fetching their belongings from their waterlogged homes an Informal Settlement in Bloekombos , Kraaifontein.

"This resulted in flooding not only of the invaded areas [often inside stormwater infrastructure such as ponds] but also of adjacent roads and formal suburbs."

ALSO READ | Mop up operations under way after storms lash Western Cape

The mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the City had implemented flood-mitigation measures such as digging trenches, delivering milling material to raise the ground level as well as providing plastic sheeting and sandbags where possible.

"City officials continue to help with the digging of trenches and by constructing canals to lead floodwater away from affected areas where possible and monitoring high-risk priority areas daily to determine flooding risks and occurrences, while giving advice to residents on how to reduce risks," Smith added.

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