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Severe Storm Weather Hits Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa – July 9, 2024

Cape Town is bracing for severe storm weather today, bringing heavy rainfall, strong winds, and widespread disruptions. The Disaster Risk Management Centre has issued orange level 6 warnings for winds, waves, and storm surges, urging residents to take precautionary measures in anticipation of one of the most intense storms in recent years.

The City is doing all it can to address the impacts as quickly as possible. Teams are across the City. Teams are assisting in Khayelitsha.. Picture: City of Cape Town (@CityofCT)

Impact and Damage

The storm began in the early hours of the morning and has intensified throughout the day. Heavy rainfall has caused significant flooding in various parts of the city, including low-lying areas and informal settlements. So far 1000 homes have been destroyed and 4000 are left homeless in Cape Town floods. Roads and highways, such as the N1 and N2, crucial arterial routes, have been submerged, leading to major traffic delays and closures. Stranded vehicles have exacerbated the transportation challenges.

“Thousands have been displaced in the township of Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town after strong winds destroyed homes and other structures.” (ABC News, 2024)

Strong winds, reaching speeds of up to 80 km/h, have uprooted trees, brought down power lines, and damaged numerous structures. Visibility around the iconic Table Mountain has been reduced to near zero due to thick clouds, prompting the closure of hiking trails and cable car services.

 

High Winds and Rough Seas

Residents are facing extremely strong winds, with speeds up to 90 km/h, posing a significant risk to infrastructure, including buildings, power lines, and trees. The Disaster Risk Management Centre has advised securing loose items and avoiding unnecessary travel.

The South African Weather Service forecasts dangerously high waves, with swells up to 7 metres, causing severe coastal erosion and potential storm surges that threaten low-lying areas.

 

Road Closures

Due to severe weather conditions, several roads and highways in Cape Town, including vital routes like the N1 and N2, have been closed. Flooding has rendered these routes impassable, resulting in major traffic disruptions. Motorists are urged to avoid these areas and seek alternative routes until further notice.

For road closures in the Western Cape, please view the lastest Roads storm damage report – July 2024 by the Western Cape Government.

Public Transport Disruptions

The storm has also disrupted public transport, leading to delays and cancellations on various routes. Commuters are advised to check with transport providers for updates and plan journeys accordingly.

 

Emergency Response

City authorities and emergency services are on high alert, responding to numerous calls for assistance. The Disaster Risk Management Centre is coordinating relief efforts, establishing temporary shelters for displaced residents and conducting rescue operations for those stranded by flooding.

“Disaster management teams are responding to widespread devastation across the province, caused by severe weather conditions” (eNCA, 2024)

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis praised the swift emergency response and urged residents to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel. “Our priority is the safety and well-being of all Cape Town residents. We are working tirelessly to manage the situation and provide assistance where needed,” he emphasized.

Power Outages and Water Supply

The storm has caused widespread power outages across the city, with Eskom reporting multiple faults and damaged infrastructure. Repair crews are working to restore electricity, although some areas may remain without power for several days.

Heavy rainfall has overwhelmed drainage systems, leading to water contamination in some areas. Residents are advised to boil water before consumption as a precaution.

Looking Ahead

The South African Weather Service anticipates the storm will begin to subside by late evening, with clearing skies expected in the coming days. Authorities caution against further flooding risks from overflowing rivers and dams.

Residents are encouraged to stay informed through official channels, follow safety guidelines, and monitor updates from the City of Cape Town for developments.

Motorists queue after snowfall during a cold front near Ceres on July 8 2024. Picture: REUTERS/ESA ALEXANDER

Stay Safe: Cape Town’s Road to Recovery

Today’s storm has tested Cape Town’s resilience and emergency preparedness, underscoring the importance of community support and effective response strategies. As recovery efforts commence, the focus remains on restoring normalcy and aiding those most affected by the severe weather.

In times of crisis, local businesses like Fire-Fox play a crucial role in supporting community recovery. Fire-Fox, known for its expertise in disaster recovery and specialized cleaning services, stands ready to assist in the aftermath of natural disasters such as this storm. From water damage restoration to emergency clean-up operations, Fire-Fox is committed to helping Cape Town residents rebuild and recover swiftly.

For the latest updates and emergency information, residents should monitor official City of Cape Town social media and website channels, and stay tuned to local news outlets. Safety remains paramount during this challenging time.