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Floods brings distress: Cold front hammers Cape Town, and it’s not done yet

Published Jun 14, 2022

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Cape Town - Flooded streets, blocked drains and waterlogged informal settlements caused misery and distress in large parts of the Cape Peninsula as the cold front made landfall and brought heavy rainfall and strong winds.

The South African Weather Service (Saws) reported: “A cold front has made landfall over the western parts of the Western Cape. Continuous rain and scattered-to-widespread rain showers are expected to persist into Wednesday. Flooding is expected for Tuesday over the south-western parts of the Western Cape.”

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Monday’s storm caused severe flooding in numerous informal settlements across Cape Town that left many residents in distress as they struggled to save their belongings and housing structures.

Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said no major incidents were reported, although there were sporadic reports of localised flooding of roadways and blocked drains.

“Blocked drains have been reported in informal settlements in Langa, Khayelitsha, Ottery, Lwandle, Strandfontein, Crossroads, Philippi and Gugulethu. These matters are being attended to by the Roads and Stormwater Department, who are clearing and unblocking drains,” Powell said.

She said City departments and related external service providers remained on high alert to deal with weather-related impacts.

Khayelitsha ward councillor Thando Mpengezi said residents from Bangiso Drive Site B were affected by high levels of flooding, especially those that lived close to the road because the major cause of the floods was blockage of stormwater drains in the area.

He said learners were sent home after four schools closed early because of the flooding in front of their gates. The water was knee-deep, which made it even more difficult for learners and school staff to leave.

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“Water-logged streets have blocked the entrances to Usasazo High School, Ntwasahlobo Primary, Ummangaliso Primary and Sakumlandela Primary schools. Pupils and staff at the schools are unable to use the main entrance,” Mpengezi said.

Another Khayelitsha councillor, Thando Pimpi, said Qandu, Green Point Phase 3, Town Two, Blowie, Sikalekhekhe and Marikana Phase One informal settlements, as well as Site B areas, were all affected by floods.

Powell said Cape Town was prone to localised flooding in low-lying areas that could impact homes in formal and informal residential areas, as well as roads in these areas – particularly during periods of sustained heavy rainfall when the volume of water entering the stormwater system outstripped the system’s capacity.

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Western Cape Disaster Management chief director Colin Deiner said: “As the province is prone to flooding and severe weather during the winter season, the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre commenced with winter readiness planning in February 2022 to ensure the districts, metro and organs of state had winter readiness plans in place before the winter season.”

Councillor Judy-Ann Stevens (ANC) said: “The impact of the rain, combined with faulty drains which are not maintained on a regular basis, has caused massive flooding in homes. Residents of informal settlements are always hit the hardest by these storms.”

She said flooding in informal settlements was a recurring annual disaster in Cape Town, but there was no contingency plan from the City.

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“The City embarked on a winter readiness campaign but with today’s rain we can clearly see that the City was nowhere near being ready for winter,” Stevens said yesterday.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said: “We can expect a lot of rain and wet and windy weather over the next few days of this week. City of Cape Town's Fire and Rescue and disaster risk management crews are ready to help with localised flooding incidents or waterlogged areas.”

He encouraged residents to call the City’s call centre on 021 480 7700 or visit the City’s website to log urgent complaints or call the City’s emergency line where teams would be ready to respond.

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