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WATCH | Ferocious storm blows into Cape Town

13 July 2020 - 11:41 By Tanya Farber, Aron Hyman and Esa Alexander
Gale-force wind and huge waves sent foam flying onto the road in Sea Point, Cape Town, on Monday.
Gale-force wind and huge waves sent foam flying onto the road in Sea Point, Cape Town, on Monday.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

Gale-force winds wreaked havoc, downing trees and tearing off roofs as a powerful storm made landfall overnight, bringing rain and snow to the Western Cape on Monday.

The cold front was accompanied by warnings from the SA Weather Service of gale-force winds of up 100km/h along the coast between Cape Columbine and Cape Agulhas, spreading to Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape.

Warnings were also issued for rough seas, heavy rain and disruptive snowfalls in the mountains.

“Gale- to strong gale-force winds blowing at 65-100km/h” are afoot, said forecaster Bransby Bulo at the weather service, “and the highest impact is on communities around Table Bay, False Bay, Hermanus, Cape Agulhas and adjacent interior areas”.

In the earlier part of the day, sea conditions saw wave heights of 6-13m along the Northern Cape and Western Cape coasts. This was expected to spread to the Eastern Cape during the day, said Bulo.

Those in affected areas have been urged to be cautious, as damage to “formal and informal settlements” ensues, while trees falling over are “affecting properties and road travel”.

Sea Point roads were covered as waves battered the coastline.
Sea Point roads were covered as waves battered the coastline.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

“Due to saturated ground from the past few days’ rainfall, further rainfall is likely to lead to flooding of roads and informal settlements, which may lead to damage of property and displacement of vulnerable communities, especially in the Winelands, Cape metropole and western Overberg,” said Bulo.

Danger was also posed by “fast-moving streams, damaged roads and low bridges” while weather-related accidents would likely lead to disruption of traffic throughout the day.

Damage to coastal infrastructure, beach erosion and difficulties for boaters and fishers was also expected, “while medium to large vessels will be at risk as a result of dragging of anchors”.

A severe storm hit Cape Town overnight on July 12 2020 as areas were battered by gale force winds and heavy rain. A high school in Nomzamo was left partially destroyed and many homeless people were left exposed across the city.

“Due to last night’s heavy rain, flooding has occurred in informal settlements across the city. No evacuation to emergency sheltering was required,” said the city's disaster risk management spokesperson Charlotte Powell.

At least 19 tree-uprooting incidents were reported by early morning, along with reports of localised flooding.

“Mopping-up operations are continuing this morning. Disaster risk management officials are busy with assessments together with other city departments.”

She said affected residents would be provided with flood kits, while the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) had been requested to provide humanitarian assistance.

Roofs were blown off homes in Manenberg, Heideveld and Lavender Hill.

In Tokai, a house was partially damaged by a falling tree, while uprooted trees damaged vehicles at Waterloo Village in Gardens.

Various roads across the city were flooded.

Classes were cancelled at Nomzamo High School in Strand on Monday after some of the school’s prefab structures were destroyed by the wind.

Provincial education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said children and teachers were told to stay at home as the debris lying around posed a risk of injury.

Hammond said the extent of the damage was yet to be determined, adding that an ablution block and classrooms had been damaged.

“The [department] needs to assess this and whether other classrooms can be utilised. We need to ensure that the debris is removed or cordoned off securely,” she said.