Heavy rains have caused flooding in the Western Cape resulting in multiple rescue operations and evacuations
Heavy rains have caused the flooding of streets and homes and led to the evacuation of residents in Struisbaai at Agulhas. Community members have had to be evacuated at Struisbaai near Cape Agulhas in the Western Cape following localised flooding due to severe storms. Earlier the South African Weather Service issued weather warnings of an intense cold front to make landfall on the Western Cape coast from today. Western Cape Local Government Ministry Spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, said people have been temporarily sheltered at the local caravan park and a community hall in Struisbaai.
“The winter storm that made landfall in the Southern Cape earlier today has led to severe localised flooding in the communities of Struisbaai, Cape Agulhas and the surrounding areas, several roads in the region have been flooded and road users are urged to use extreme caution when travelling outdoors, homes had to be evacuated in the affected areas.”
The winter storm continues to take a heavy toll on the Western Cape with two people missing and an evacuation of thirty farmworkers underway in Riviersonderend.
The Overberg, specifically Bredasdorp, Struisbaai, Riversonderend and the surrounding areas continue to be hardest hit by the storm that made landfall on Tuesday evening with many areas still flooded and significant damage to property being reported.
There have been two fatalities in the Bonnievale area that occurred on Wednesday evening. Search and rescue efforts are continuing for the two missing persons, one in Stormsvlei and one in Riviersonderend.
Multiple rescue efforts continue to be conducted. To date these include:
1 mother and her three children rescued in Stormsvlei.
2 men rescued in Riviersonderend.
2 medical evacuations ongoing in Riviersonderend.
2 men rescued in the Greyton/Riviersonderend area.
The evacuation of farmworkers is from a farm in the Riviersonderend area. In addition the Malgas community has been cut off by the rising Breede River and is at risk of being flooded. The rising water levels are being monitored by the Department of Water and Sanitation.
The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, said District Municipal Fire and Rescue, EMS, NSRI, SAAF and SAPS are all deployed and assisting communities across the affected regions. “The South African Airforce has put an Oryx helicopter on standby to assist with search and rescue operations when conditions allow. The South African Weather Service (SAWS) predicts the bad weather will continue to Saturday and while less rain is predicted for the City of Cape Town, a warning has been issued for heavy rain in Oudtshoorn.”
The Tradouw Pass between Barrydale and Swellendam is closed due to current weather conditions which has resulted in a rock fall.
The SAWS warns lots of rain can also continue to be expected over the Cape Winelands District, Hessequa and Ladismith Municipalities until Saturday.
Malgas in the Southern Cape is cut off due to impassable roads. Contingency plans are in place for emergencies through Overberg Disaster Management. No attempts must be made to leave the area as roads have become dangerous.
Due to a lot of water in the catchment areas, it is predicted that the Breede River (and other rivers in the affected areas) will be experiencing higher than normal flood levels during the next 24hours. People in low lying areas close to rivers are urged to be on alert for severe flooding.
On the humanitarian side of things, Checkers and USave have provided mobile soup units to Riversonderend and Struisbaai. A donation of blankets, dry goods and toiletries has also been donated. SASSA has further tasked the NGO Gift of the Givers to also deliver blankets and food to Struisbaai. Various private donations are still being received.
The Gift of the Givers says it has been approached to assist in the storm disaster at Struisbaai. Community members have had to be evacuated at Struisbaai following localised flooding due to severe storms. Earlier the South African Weather Service issued weather warnings of an intense cold front to make landfall on the Western Cape coast from today. Gift of the Givers Founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said, “Our teams have already loaded vehicles with blankets, mattresses, sanitary bags, diapers, baby cereal, masks, sanitisers, bottled water and bulk food to be used for cooking for the next three to five days providing three meals a day as residents will be moved into community centres.”
Minister Bredell is urging people in the affected areas to be patient and cautious. “Emergency services are working non-stop to assist people who have been affected by the storm. Large rivers are swelling and flooding their banks in places and this will continue to pose challenges in the next day or two. Please contact the emergency services in the case of any emergency. In addition, when driving, please apply extreme caution and do not cross flood waters crossing roadways.”
Sources: SABC News Western Cape, Western Cape Disaster Management Centre, Gift of the Givers