THE conflicted way Cape Town responded to Wednesday’s storm was eye opening.
According to the old adage, “one man’s meat is another’s poison”.
And so it was with those who rolled their eyes with comments like “this is just a normal winter’s storm. What’s all the fuss about?”
We so immunised by Hollywood or Netflix or our wobbly world that we can’t see severity when it’s smacking us with 100km/h wind gusts, gigantic storm surf and chocolate milkshake waves exploding across the Sea Point promenade.
Lets get the facts straight. Eight people died in this storm. Who knows how many injuries, from serious to minor, were incurred from flying debris? Thousands were made homeless, and misery descended on hundreds of thousands of people living on the Cape Flats.
Hundreds of trees were knocked over. As a result, roads and highways were shut. Mountain passes were closed. Power went down in many towns across the Western Cape. There was flooding. There was snow and freezing weather. There was how many millions in damage to infrastructure and the cost of cleaning it all up?
Just under 60mm of rain fell in my suburb ( okay it was Newlands after all), and schools were closed. Millions of cubic metres of sand has been sucked out to sea, and in some places, entire beaches have gone.
The storm tide smashed the NSRI boat house in Bakoven, and Noordhoek beach was flooded right into the sand dunes 200 metres from the shoreline, as were beaches up the West Coast.
For those questioning the call by the City’s disaster management team (some of whom said it was the worst storm in Cape Town since the “great storm” of 1984) to shut schools, consider numerous school buildings were badly damaged, including roofs coming apart in the westerly gales. Flying roof sheets are a deadly weapon.
I suppose Cape Town is so geographically disparate, with many nooks and crannies, that the effects of the storm seem minor in some places. If you’re on the Atlantic seaboard, the action of the storm is a visceral thing. If you were on a boat off Cape Point, no doubt you’d feel a little queasy. Incidentally, a wind meter at Cape Point measured one gust at 125 km/h on Wednesday.
Hunkered in your cosy suburban home shielded by a mountain, or by other homes around you, it’s hard to get perspective.
Some people gauged their opinion on what colours and numbers the computer models were showing. But you have to take into account the severity of conditions on the ground are disconnected from the theoretical picture painted by the math.
Stand under a creaking old oak tree in a 50knot wind and sideways rain to test that theory. The Tiger’s Milk Winter Classic got underway yesterday morning at Muizenberg Corner in challenging 4-5’ leftovers from the big storm. Finalists will share R50 000 in prize money. The multi-discipline event ends on Sunday afternoon.
PERFECT 10: Dale Staples pulls into a big barrel at the JBU Supertrial Powered by Monster Energy on Thursday.