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.

The City of Cape Town has refuted claims that this message is real and issued by them
Precautionary measures from the South African Weather Service:
-Strong, gusty interior winds over the interior increase the risk of runaway fires, therefore the public are advised not to start any fires or leave fires unattended under these conditions.
-When encountering flooding: If possible stay indoors and off the roads, avoid crossing rivers and swollen streams where water is above your ankles. If trapped in a flooding situation whilst in a vehicle, rather abandon it and climb to higher ground. In buildings, move valuables to a safe place above the expected flood level. Switch off electricity at the supply point to the building.
– In rural areas protect/relocate animals to a safe place on higher ground. Abandon your home immediately if evacuation is recommended by duly authorized officials, before access is cut off by flood water.
– NEVER drive on a road covered or obscured by water. You do not know how deep it is or if the road has been washed away. If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Be especially cautious at night when it is difficult to identify flood hazards. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from Disaster Management officials.
The South African Weather Service will continue to monitor any further developments relating to this weather system and will issue subsequent updates as required.

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.

To report any emergencies, contact the Disaster Risk Management Centre on 080 911 4357 or email at [email protected]

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Lucinda is a lifestyle writer with a hard news edge, and recent journalism graduate. She enjoys reading travel blogs and loves animals.