With winter in full swing and plenty of rainfall recently as well as more forecast for the coming days, the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management (DRMC) has calculated a recorded 760 weather-related incidents for the month of June.
The DRMC coordinates the City’s response to accidents that impact the safety and wellbeing of residents.
In June, the DRMC received weather warnings from the South African Weather Service on two occasions.
Severe weather fallouts reports included flooding to varying degrees, roofs damaged or blown off by strong winds, fallen trees and branches, blocked drains, and power outages among others.
The DRMC recorded the following notifications of weather-related incidents:
“We are grateful for the winter rain, as it is crucial to efforts to replenish our dams, but the City is also mindful of its responsibility to protect those who are vulnerable when storm-like conditions hit the city. The focus of the City’s emergency services is always on protecting life as a first priority, to avoid damage to property or the environment and to minimise disruption,” said Mayco Member for Safety and Security JP Smith.
When a call is received, it is assessed in terms of what services are required, and whether it is a routine matter or requires emergency action.
Internal role-players include the City’s departments for water and sanitation, transport and stormwater, electricity, informal settlements, public housing, building inspectors, and safety and security. External stakeholders include the Social Security Agency of South Africa (SASSA), the SPCA and several others.
“The incidents are prioritised, and staff will respond accordingly. It is therefore extremely important that anyone in need of assistance provides as much detail as possible, as that helps determine where on the list of priorities the incident can be placed if need be, particularly when staff are overrun with requests for assistance,” said Smith.
Fake news, amplified by instant messaging and social media platforms, has become a source of concern for the City’s first responders. One such example was the hurricane warning that circulated recently. The hoax message resulted in a flood of calls to the DRMC made by concerned residents.
“Our appeal to the public is to not share these messages until they are verified. It creates unnecessary panic, and blocks the emergency lines which means persons who need assistance struggle to get through,” said Smith. “We also ask that the public help our disaster risk reduction efforts by making sure that their immediate environment is flood- and fire-secure, that they have a family disaster risk plan in place, in the event of an emergency, and that they report any illegal dumping and blockages of the stormwater system, as this is a major contributing factor to localised flooding during times of heavy downpours.”