The Western Cape is mopping up after a massive flood that lashed the province over the weekend causing widespread damage to roads and infrastructure and impacting a number of tourist routes and towns over the long weekend.
Eight confirmed deaths have been reported in Cape Town, and rescue operations are still under way in other parts of the province.
Rainfall well in excess of 100mm was recorded across large parts of the Western Cape, with the Overberg, Overstrand, and Cape Winelands districts being particularly hard hit. Conditions cleared up on Tuesday, allowing officials to begin mop-up operations. Massive damage has been sustained to roads, electrical infrastructure, private and government property, and several areas have been cut off due to road flooding or uprooted trees.
Speaking during a press conference today (Tuesday, September 26) Western Cape Premier Alan Winde appealed to residents to be patient and stay safe: “Please be patient. I know many of you are stuck and can’t get to where you want to go. I know we are under pressure but everyone will be doing their level best to get you to where you need be, to as quickly as possible.”
Major routes connecting the province, including sections of the N1 and N2, were closed to traffic or diverted. As a result, several other roads have significantly increased traffic volumes.
A total of 84 provincial roads were still closed at the time of the briefing, but Head of Communications for the Western Cape’s Department of Mobility, Jandre Bakker said this was an evolving situation with roads being cleared and reopened regularly. Arniston was still completely cut off in the Overberg, and the road connecting Hermanus with Stanford is closed. In the Cape Winelands, the Franschhoek Pass is still closed due to trees on the road, and several other routes are closed due to overtopping.
“It’s mainly our coastal areas, Struisbaai and Arniston that are still cut off to a greater extent,” Bakker said. “We have seen a lot of damage in the Franschhoek area, especially in the town itself.”
In the City of Cape Town, Chapman’s Peak, has been closed due to slope failure, and Sir Lowry’s Pass, has also been closed. The Swartberg Pass and the Prince Alfred Pass remain closed in the Garden Route.
Western Cape Minister for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell said electrical connections in certain areas had been impacted, which was also affecting cellphone connectivity. “20 000 people are without electricity in Cape Town. In Stanford, three substations tripped and two in Hermanus tripped. Eskom’s personnel are working day and night to try and normalise the situation.”
Bredell said flights from Cape Town International Airport had largely been unaffected, although there had been some delays on flights to George due to adverse weather.
Major events scheduled for the long weekend were forced to reschedule or were cut short due to the severe weather. The South African Cheese Festival, held annually in Stellenbosch halted certain activities on Sunday, and was cancelled on Monday. The South African Mini Naval Festival, due to be held at the V&A Waterfront was also cancelled, due to the tragic submarine accident that occurred in severe weather conditions at sea on Wednesday.
Despite what Clinton Lerm, Overstrand Mayco Committee Member for Investment and Infrastructure referred to as “a tumultuous long weekend” Hermanus has already started preparations for the upcoming Hermanus Whale festival, which kicks off this week.
SANParks has warned visitors to avoid slippery, wet and muddy conditions on the Table Mountain National Park trails, to avoid having accidents and requiring rescue.
“Park users are advised to wait for a drier period to access mountain hiking, horse and bike trails,” it said.
CapeNature has also advised that a number of its reserves, including De Hoop, Kogelberg and Jonkershoek have been closed due to the weather.