Gales, rain, flood­ing bat­ter penin­sula


THERE was no es­cap­ing “the mother of all storms” yes­ter­day, as it lashed parts of the West­ern Cape and left at least eight peo­ple dead and more than 2000 dis­placed.

The storm un­leashed gale-force winds of up to 90km/h and about 50mm of rain as it en­gulfed the penin­sula, tak­ing with it sig­nage, safety gates and trees, and caus­ing da­m­age to prop­erty run­ning into thou­sands of rand.

Three multi-car pile-ups were re­ported and power out­ages across the metro left thou­sands in the dark.

Res­i­dents were en­cour­aged to stay in­doors and steer clear of coastal ar­eas, as the storm co­in­cided with a spring tide, re­sult­ing in mas­sive swells.

Al­though Gaut­eng will not be hit by the rag­ing storm – the worst in 30 years – tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to drop from to­day, ac­cord­ing to the SA Weather Ser­vice. Vereenig­ing will be par­tic­u­larly af­fected, with a min­i­mum of mi­nus 3 and a max­i­mum of 12ºC. Tem­per­a­tures in Joburg will range from mi­nus 2 to 15ºC.

The cold front is also ex­pected to hit the Free State, Mpumalanga, Lim­popo and the North West prov­ince from to­day un­til at least Sun­day.

“A cold front will pass through the cen­tral parts of the coun­try by Thurs­day af­ter­noon and those in Gaut­eng and other prov­inces will feel the ef­fects,” Weather Ser­vice fore­caster Vene­tia Phakula told The Star.

As the storm lashed the West­ern Cape yes­ter­day, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s air­craft was grounded, leav­ing him un­able to at­tend the World As­so­ci­a­tion o f News­pa­pers and News Pub­lish­ers (Wan-Ifra) congress in Dur­ban, which he was ex­pected to ad­dress last night.

The South African Air Force’s Oryx he­li­copters were on emer­gency standby to as­sist with evac­u­a­tions.

James-Brent Styan, spokesper­son for West­ern Cape Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment MEC An­ton Bre­dell, said the Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Cen­tre con­tin­ued to man­age “a range of cri­sis around the prov­ince” yes­ter­day as the storm con­tin­ued to rage.

More than 2 000 peo­ple were dis­placed in greater Cape Town.

“More than 2 000 res­i­dents of Imizamo Yethu, on the south penin­sula, re­quired al­ter­na­tive emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion, plus the res­i­dents of 200 homes in Mak­haza, Khayelit­sha. More than 80 peo­ple from an in­for­mal set­tle­ment in Vil­liers­dorp were evac­u­ated due to ris­ing wa­ter lev­els,” Styan said.

In Grabouw, in­for­mal set­tle­ment roofs were blown off and road clo­sures were re­ported. Six in­for­mal dwellings were af­fected in Bot River and six fam­i­lies were dis­placed and as­sisted by the au­thor­i­ties.

“More than 100 adults and chil­dren were evac­u­ated from homes in Fran­schhoek, while emer­gency ser­vices were also as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Touws River,” he said.

Styan said snow was ex­pected on the moun­tains, which would re­sult in ex­tremely cold tem­per­a­tures.

The South African Red Cross So­ci­ety as­sisted with pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief. In Laven­der Hill, a neigh­bour’s un­fin­ished build­ing col­lapsed onto the Wendy house where 69-year-old Joseph Con­nie was pre­par­ing food, killing him in­stantly. Con­nie’s body lay un­der the rub­ble for at least three hours, fam­ily said, be­fore foren­sics ar­rived.

His wife said: “I wasn’t here when it hap­pened, I’m hear­ing things from ev­ery­one.” Con­nie’s nephew, Jody Africa, 19, was in the house when he heard a loud noise, and saw the roof col­lapse onto his un­cle.

In Kraai­fontein, po­lice spokesper­son An­dré Traut said the cause of a fire which killed four-year-old twins, and two adults, aged 40 and 48, was still un­known.

In Rhee­nen­dal, Knysna, a farm­worker, his wife and their son died when a fire broke out.

In Ge­orge, 32 shacks lost their roofs, and in the Kan­na­land Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, 40 peo­ple were evac­u­ated when houses lost their roofs in the gale-force winds. Chap­man’s Peak was closed by mud­slides and, while the Huguenot Tun­nel was open to cars, heav­ier ve­hi­cles were rerouted through the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass.

Pro­vin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Deb­bie Schäfer’s spokesper­son, Jes­sica Shelver, said seven schools re­ported storm da­m­age. Schools were closed yes­ter­day as a safety pre­cau­tion.

The SA Weather Ser­vice said the cold front was ex­pected to per­sist un­til to­day. Small stock-farm­ers are warned that heavy rain, flood­ing, snow­falls and very cold con­di­tions are ex­pected.

Sea swells be­tween 6m and 12m are ex­pected, and wind speeds may reach 90km/h.

Cape Town’s Mayco mem­ber for Safety and Se­cu­rity and So­cial Ser­vices, JP Smith, said by yes­ter­day af­ter­noon 97 dwellings had flooded in Ma­cas­sar Vil­lage, af­fect­ing 400 peo­ple. The Red Cross as­sisted, pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief.


POUND­ING SURF: Peo­ple run for cover as gusty winds pum­mel the Sea Point prom­e­nade yes­ter­day.


OCEAN FURY: Waves bash the seafront at Sea Point.


FLOODS: The storm caused chaos in the Cape Town CBD.


SHEER FORCE: Shacks were ripped apart by 90km/h blus­ter­ing winds in Hout Bay dur­ing the heavy storm which hit Cape Town early yes­ter­day morn­ing. The city was put on alert for the mother of all storms.

COLD COM­FORT: Home­less man Vuyani Pot­sho had to en­dure a cold and sleep­less night on Koe­berg Road as the storm un­leashed its fury.

WINDS OF CHANGE: This tree in Siyabonga street, Dunoon, Cape Town, was up­rooted.

STORM HIT: Jer­maine Mostert’s four-year old son Jo­den was in­jured when the roof of a flat in As­pling Court, Laven­der Hill, was lifted by strong winds at about mid­night.

SURF’S UP: An en­thralled lens­man cap­tures the churn­ing waves in Camps Bay which ac­com­pa­nied the wild weather that hit Cape shores.

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