Steve Pike

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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