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Unprecedented Storm Lashes Western Cape, South Africa, Inflicting Massive Damage

Published September 27, 2023
9 months ago

Large parts of the Western Cape, including Greater Cape Town and the Overberg, Overstrand and Winelands regions, are reeling under the aftermath of a severe storm. The havoc unleashed by the sustained downpours on Sunday and Monday prompted rivers to break their banks, resulting in widespread flooding, landslides, and rockfalls. The catastrophe destroyed essential infrastructure, caused widespread power outages, and inundated homes and farmlands, forcing the closure of all major roads leading into Cape Town.

“The storm will be more severe than expected," cautioned the SA Weather Service, prompting the Western Cape government to activate the Provincial Disaster Management Centre. Provincial authorities and disaster management teams have been continuously handling emergencies and assessing the shockingly high damage levels inflicted by the rainfall, reaching as high as 170mm in the Overberg region, 133mm in Stellenbosch, and 92mm at the Royal Yacht Club in Cape Town over a 24-hour period.

Alarmingly, the weather service upped its warning from level 6 to an urgent orange level 9 (out of 10), hinting at disruptive rain, gale-force winds, and potentially heavy impact on people, properties, and activities.

The situation in farming communities is precarious, as farmers were already gearing up for the harvest season. Jannie Strydom, CEO of Agri Western Cape, expressed grave concern about the damage to crops and infrastructure. The canola harvest appears to be at greater risk, as the fields need to be accessed within the next two weeks.

The Western Cape transport & public works department acknowledges significant additional travel times and expected traffic congestion on specific routes while assessments are underway.

Gift of the Givers, a prominent relief organization, has been asked to provide flood assistance to washed-out regions and evacuated communities.

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