Destructive floods cause major disruption across Cape Town, South Africa

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Severe flooding caused by torrential rains hit Cape Town, South Africa on June 14, 2023, forcing the South African Weather Service (SAWS) to issue an Orange Level 6 warning. The storm caused significant traffic disruption, limited rail service, and substantial damage to properties and infrastructure across the city. The aftermath saw numerous roads flooded, a local factory and substation impacted, and various informal settlements and residential areas severely affected. As the city grapples with the aftermath, assessments continue and urgent relief efforts are underway.

Severe flooding, caused by torrential rain and high winds, has wreaked havoc in Cape Town, South Africa, today, leading to overflowing rivers, road closures, and severe disruption across the city. The storm has resulted in extensive damage to the city and surrounding areas, impacting daily life and prompting urgent assessments of the destruction.

SAWS warned that the disruptive rain may lead to flooding of roads and settlements, causing substantial damage to properties and infrastructure. “This may result in the flooding of roads and settlements, as well as damage to property and infrastructure,” SAWS said. The city’s Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) is currently assessing the damage and determining the required assistance.

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Image credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 11:00 UTC on June 14, 2023
YouTube video

Several rivers, including the Jakkalsvlei Canal, the Lourens River, and the Kayser River, have burst their banks due to excessive rainfall. Flooding at the Johnson & Johnson factory in Tokai and power outages in the Helderberg area have resulted from the overflowing Lourens River. Informal settlements in Philippi, Strand, Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Masiphumelele, and Khayelitsha have also experienced severe flooding.

“The City and Eskom are working together to restore the power in the Helderberg area. The Kay’s Caravan Park in Strand is being evacuated. The Help-n-Hand NGO is accommodating the residents,” said Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell.

Roadways across the city are flooded, with multiple instances of temporary stormwater overflows, uprooted trees, and mud on road surfaces. Capetonians have recorded the widespread damage and disruption caused by the rain, with numerous flooded roads forcing detours and causing long delays for commuters. Roads affected include De La Ray Road, N2 inbound, N1 inbound, and M3 North and Southbound, among others.

The extreme weather conditions have also led to a reduced service from Metrorail, due to a fallen tree on the traction and signal power cables at the Wittebome station on the Southern line. Limited service is operating on the Malmesbury, Kraaifontein to Bellville, Eerste River to Bellville, and Simonstown to Fish Hoek lines.

Residents across the city reported severe difficulties caused by the floods. A resident of Klipfontein Mission Station said that homes in the area had been “abundantly overflowing with water”, forcing many to seek shelter elsewhere in the middle of the night. Similarly, residents in Muizenberg experienced severe traffic delays, with journeys taking hours longer than usual.

The situation is ongoing, and residents are urged to remain cautious as assessments continue and relief efforts are underway.

References:

1 WATCH | The flooding ‘was insane’: Heavy rains leave trail of destruction in Cape Town – news24 – June 14, 2023

Featured image credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 11:00 UTC on June 14, 2023

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