Wednesday afternoon saw the crux of the Cape Town storm as a vicious cold front made landfall in the region.
While many welcomed the rainfall after months of no rain and revelled in the sight of a destructive Atlantic Ocean crashing into coastal suburbs, thousands of others have been left displaced, injured and even dead. The Western Cape Disaster Management said on Thursday that nine people have been killed while thousands were forced from their homes. The storm saw winds reach up to 150 km per hour and 15 meter high waves.
By this morning, it was reported that up to 50 mm of rain was received in and around the city since the onset of the storm on Tuesday evening.
Overturned vehicles and uprooted trees led to road blockages and snapped power lines. Many areas in the Cape Flats and Northern Suburbs were left without electricity due to cables being damaged.
In the midst of the region’s worst drought in over a century, people in informal settlements have been hit the hardest by the storm, as flooding and heavy rain washed away homes built of planks and zinc sheets. Emergency humanitarian aid was dispatched to these areas to assist.
The wind also played a part, blowing the roofs off homes in Strand, Kraaifontein, Mfuleni and Delft. A 60-year-old man was fatally injured when his shack collapsed on him due to strong winds. In another incident, a Kraaifontein family of four died in a fire caused by lightening.
According to The City of Cape Town, 97 permanent dwellings and 700 emergency houses which were erected after recent fires, were also flooded. The permanent houses affected include 365 homes in Imizamo Yethu settlement in Hout Bay, while the permanent houses are located in Macassar Village.
As destruction loomed on, many were moved to open their hearts and wallets to the less fortunate. The Haven Night Shelter’s Buy a Bed campaign was widely circulated on social media. A donation of just R60 allows one homeless person to have a place of refuge for five days. While the shelter asserts that they receive great support from the community, more donations are needed in the form of good-quality blankets, non-perishable foods, clothing and toiletry kits, according to spokesperson Hassan Khan. Those willing to donate can contact +27 (0) 21 425 4700.
Items can also be dropped off at the Haven Night Shelter head office at 2 Napier Street Greenpoint or any of the shelters in the Western Cape.
Ramifications of the storm have also spread to other parts of the province. The Western Cape government said that “pre-storm conditions” in the form of warm and strong winds resulted in wildfires that ripped through the Garden Route towns of Knysna, Sedgefield and Wilderness. As of this morning it had travelled further up the south coast to Plettenberg Bay.
In addition, cold and icy conditions are set to persist well into the weekend as high peaks of the Western Cape including Table Mountain and Matroosberg have seen snowfall.
Despite finally seeing proper winter weather, The City of Cape Town has warned that the heavy rainfall does not constitute as a quick fix for the drought. Residents are still urged to abide by Level 4 water restrictions and conserve as much as possible. It will take at least three consecutive winters of above average rainfall for the city to see healthy dam levels.
Featured Image Mike Hutchings/Rodger Bosch