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Sat Oct 22 09:01:59 SAST 2016

Seven safety tips in flash floods

TMG Digital | 10 March, 2016 15:33
Floods. File picture.

As little as 30cm of water can float your car.

This warning comes as a search was called off for a motorist who crossed an overflowing low-lying bridge in Pretoria on Thursday. The 40-year-old man's car was swept off a bridge in Horingneskraal north of Pretoria.

Vehicle swept away.JPG 

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) offered safety advice for residents due to the danger of flash floods from the current heavy rains.

More lives are lost in the City through flash flooding than any other weather-related incidents‚ the JRA said.

Drowning is the leading cause of death with 80% of fatalities occurring among occupants of vehicles‚ the JRA said in a statement.

Drivers often underestimate the dangers of flooding‚ especially at low-lying bridges‚ where as little as 30 centimetres of water can float vehicles and result in the driver losing control‚ the agency said.

“Persistent heavy rains always cause concerns for the City‚” Kau said. “Large volumes of water are dropped within a brief period and sudden floods can occur with little or no advance warning.

“Many of our residents are unprepared for the sudden surge in water levels and streams can suddenly turn into raging torrents that tear out trees, destroy buildings and obliterate bridges.”

Seven Tips that might save your life during heavy rains:

  1. Do not attempt to drive through flooded areas‚ even if the water looks shallow enough to cross;
  2. Leave your vehicle if it stalls and move immediately to higher ground;
  3. Never drive into water that covers the road, you do not know how deep it is or whether the road underneath has been washed away;
  4. During heavy rains be on special alert near dips in the highway and near low-lying bridges;
  5. Exercise caution‚ especially at night when visibility is poor;
  6. Pedestrians must avoid areas where water is flowing rapidly;
  7. Keep children away from playing in drainage ditches or storm water drains.

There is an overall budget of R120 million for low lying bridges susceptible to periodical flooding which are now being raised above the flood line‚ says the Acting Managing Director of the Johannesburg Roads Agency‚ Mpho Kau.

The JRA has identified “hotspot flood areas” in the City and has taken steps to mitigate the impact of sudden downpours.

Kau said high-risk areas in the City mapped by JRA include Dobsonville‚ Green Village‚ Mapetla‚ Orlando East and West‚ Phiri‚ Doornkop‚ Braamfischerville‚ Orange Farm‚ Eldorado Park‚ Diepsloot‚ Ivory Park‚ Industria‚ Lenasia‚ Devland and North Riding.

Improvements are being made to the storm water systems to facilitate drainage and minimise the potential for flooding. The JRA is busy with the conversion of open drain systems to a closed system to prevent members of the community from being swept away during floods. R123 million has been budgeted for the repair of storm water drainage and conversion of open drain systems to closed systems city wide. Residents are urged to keep the storm water drains clean as blocked storm water drain can lead to flooding.

The current construction on the M1 freeway to rehabilitate the bridge the structures also includes significant upgrades to the storm water system. Certain sections of the freeway and the Federation and Oxford bridges are being upgraded and lanes are closed for normal traffic. Remedial work to prevent flooding is also being carried out the M1 Double Decker Bridge.

About the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) The JRA is a City-owned agency responsible for the maintenance‚ repair and development of Johannesburg’s road network and storm water infrastructure‚ including bridges and culverts‚ traffic lights and signage. The organisation is committed to providing quality roads that are accessible‚ safe and liveable for our communities.


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