The City of Cape Town Disaster Operations Centre has refuted a hoax message making the rounds on social media saying a “hurricane type storm” will hit the city today. This hoax caused a blockage on the Disaster Operations Centre’s lines – affecting the City’s efficiency in dealing with real emergencies.
“As a result of the hoax message doing the rounds, the City’s Disaster Operations Centre is now inundated with calls from the public about the message, and this is blocking the lines for real emergencies,” said Charlotte Powell, spokesperson for the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre.
She adds that the public should not call the Disaster Operations Centre unless there is a real emergency.
The hoax says mudslides are expected on mountain roads and that snow is expected to fall in “higher regions”.
“Citizens are urged to prepare for the storm by moving any loose furniture indoors and bring any pets inside. Evacuation plans have been set out for several areas and the South African air force is on standby from 10pm onwards, the hoax message reads. “Citizens are also urged to remain indoors as much as possible and to clear away from any dead or burnt trees that may fall during the storm.”
Richard Bosman, director of the City’s Safety and Security Directorate, reiterates that these claims are untrue. “We are working off information provided by the South African Weather Services,” he said.
South African Weather Services has issued a severe weather warning for the Mother City, and is expected to extend from Thursday through to Friday. Gale force winds of up to 70 kilometres per hour can be expected, as well as intense periods of heavy downpour.
“With the wind speed forecast to pick up late tonight (Thursday), we caution residents to be on alert for possible damage to their homes as well as trees that may be uprooted and could affect traveling, as well as power lines,” the warning read.
Flooding has been reported in informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Langa, Strand, Strandfontein, Philippi, Kensington and Atlantis.
“At this stage approximately 500 structures have been affected. However, no emergency shelter has been activated,” Powell said. “The City’s Informal Settlements Department is making assessments and handing out flood kits. There have also been power outages in Bridgetown. Technicians are attending to it.”
Trees have been uprooted in Kenilworth, Parow Industria and Goodwood – and are being attended to.
Disaster Risk Management staff are currently conducting assessments of roads, and are clearing those which have been obstructed by the heavy rains and debris.