South Africa News

Western Cape floods: Death toll rises as extreme weather continues

A 64-year-old man was found dead in his home in Vredendal on the West Coast on Saturday, bringing the death toll in extreme weather in the Western Cape in the past week to two.

According to Colin Deiner, head of Western Cape disaster management, the victim chose to remain in his home.

“We evacuated about 20 people from the area, but this resident chose to stay in his home. He was found dead this morning. Unfortunately, we can’t release the names of the two deceased people yet,” Deiner said on Saturday.

Another Western Cape resident drowned earlier in the week.

“Three people tried to cross the Buffeljags River and one of them was swept away by the water. This person did not survive.”

Rescue operations are continuing in the inclement weather.

“We are concerned about the Olifants River, but in general the water levels in our rivers are actually quite low if you take into account the amount of rain that has fallen.

“We can thank our colleagues from Water and Sanitation’s dam safety department. They have been managing the flow of water from our dams — especially the Clanwilliam dam — very well,” Deiner said.

Meanwhile, evacuations in problem areas are still continuing.

“We are evacuating the Klawer area downstream from Clanwilliam, but this is just a precautionary measure.”

Another problem area is the Matzikama local municipality.

Western Cape floods

“Citrusdal is totally cut off by land. We have tried using 4×4 vehicles to reach the community, but that is not working. For now, we have to use helicopters to get to Citrusdal,” Deiner said.

“Our teams flew out a child with head injuries earlier, I do not know if the injuries were caused by the water.”

A low cloud ceiling is making matters difficult.

“We have to wait for a window when the rains stop and the clouds give way a bit before we can fly,” Deiner said.

“We are using our two firefighting choppers and the air force also supplied us with a helicopter. We also have a fixed wing aircraft available for reconnaissance. These craft have now been moved to the West Coast.”

The extreme weather is due to a third cold front hitting the Western Cape in a week.

“We are not done yet. We expect the fourth and final cold front to hit us somewhere between Sunday evening and Monday morning,” Deiner said.

The SA Weather Service on Saturday confirmed to the publication the Western Cape’s weather problems are not over yet.

“In addition to the cold front system currently over the Western Cape, we are expecting another cold front to arrive on Sunday through to Monday morning,” Mbazhi Maliage told the publication.

“We can’t say this will be the final one as it is winter and cold fronts are to be expected.”

According to Maliage, the Cape Winelands were the worst hit.

“I cannot tell you the rainfall caused by the current cold front as we are still collecting data, but in the front that hit on Thursday about 107mm of rain fell in Ceres while Paarl received 46mm.

“Some parts of the Cape Metro had between 30 and 35mm of rain,” Maliage said on Saturday.


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