Cape mops up after rain disaster

Western Cape Premier Ibrahim Rasool on Saturday met emergency personnel after a killer storm left two dead and damage estimated at around R600-million.

Johann du Preez, district manager for the devastated Eden district municipality, said storms that ravaged the Cape have caused damage estimated between R500-million and R600-million to the Poort area.

Rasool’s spokesperson, Shado Twala, said he was on Saturday afternoon boarding a helicopter en route to Cape Town International Airport to attend a briefing by emergency personnel. The briefing would be followed by a fly-over of the damaged and destroyed areas.

The death toll remained at two — a 12-year-old boy and a 65-year-old man drowned in two separate incidents.

The Eden district municipality in the Western Cape was dealing with emergencies from a joint operation centre (JOC).

”We went on a site visit last night and the Poort [between Avontuur and Uniondale in the Western Cape] area basically does not exist any more, ” said Du Preez.

He estimated that about 15km of road had been destroyed as well as the main bridge linking Avontuur and Uniondale, with the Poort area in between.

Farms in the Poort area were ”cut off from the rest of the world” and all the farm roads were damaged, though there were alternative routes, said Du Preez.

The Eden JOC was responding to emergency calls and providing food parcels to rural areas that had been cut off as well as responding to all seven Eden municipal areas, including Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.

”We have three helicopters responding at the moment,” Du Preez said.

Police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said helicopters were used to deliver basic items to Oudtshoorn and Ladismith and to the greater Eden district.

”Mop-up operations by the district municipality will start as soon as the water subsides and a full-scale recovery operation will start on Monday as soon as the water subsides. The SAPS [South African Police Service] are on stand-by to brief the premier this morning,” said Pojie.

The South African Weather Service said while the storm had subsided, more rainfall was expected.

”We are still expecting some rain today, but not so continuous and not so hard. The weather system that produced the rain and the thick moisture layer has moved off and the ground is quite saturated. The moisture layer played a big part as well as the large mountain catchment area,” said meteorologist Ruleen Peens.

In the meantime, the N2 leading to Cape Town has been reopened after it was closed on Friday when about 1 000 people were evacuated from their homes and sections of the N2 near George were closed as heavy rain pelted down.

The flooding from the storm has affected many areas in the southern Cape, including Harkerville, Heidelberg, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Uniondale and Avondale. — Sapa

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