M&G: Thousands left homeless in wake of heavy Cape rains


Thousands left homeless in wake of heavy Cape rains
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA Jul 13 2009 12:59

Thousands of shack dwellers were left homeless on Monday morning after heavy rains caused flooding around Cape Town.

Charlotte Powell, a spokesperson for Cape Town’s disaster and emergency management, said about 9 000 people from 2 500 shacks had been affected by the floods.

No injuries have been reported.

“We are mopping up across city,” she said. “We have 20 informal settlements that have been affected. They are mostly on the Cape Flats.”

Emergency shelter was being provided for the affected people in community halls. Powell said the Lourens River in Strand and Liesbeek River outside the city had burst their banks.

She said floods had also hit suburbs such as Newlands, Rondebosch, Claremont, Athlone and Somerset West.

Disaster management services were trying to unblock stormwater drains.

Gail Linnow, client liaison officer for South African Weather Service Cape Town, said the weather office at Cape Town International Airport recorded the second-highest rainfall for a 24-hour period in July since recording started in 1957.

“The station recorded 55,2mm for the 24 hours from 8am on Sunday to 8am today [Monday]. The highest figure recorded for a 24-hour period in July was 61mm in 1985,” she said.

The record for a 24-hour period was 93,7mm, recorded at the airport in April 1993.

Linnow said figures from an automatic weather station in the Elgin-Grabouw area showed 148,2mm had fallen in the district between 8am on Sunday and 8am on Monday. This was the highest recorded since the station was established in 2004.

Rian Smit, a SAWS forecaster at Cape Town Weather Office, said the severe weather would continue in the Western Cape on Monday.

“Snow is forecast for the Western Cape mountains today [Monday],” he said.

“The freezing level is at 5 000 feet, and while this will not close the [road] passes, it will definitely put some snow on the peaks.

“The weather is set to improve tomorrow. A weak weather system will pass over the Cape on Wednesday, but the forecast for Thursday and Friday is sunny weather.”

At Matroosberg nature reserve, snow was reported to have fallen on the second highest peak in the Western Cape.

“There is small crack in the cloud and we can just about see that it has snowed on top of the mountain,” said Mietdie Jasper, who works at the reserve. – Sapa