Update on disaster management response to severe weather

8 April 2024 | SANews


Premier Alan Winde, members of the Western Cape Government (WCG) Cabinet, municipal officials and other stakeholders were given a briefing early this morning at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) on the severe weather conditions affecting numerous areas in the province.

The Joint Operational Centre has been activated to coordinate the overall provincial disaster response.

Over the past weekend, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) issued a level 9 warning for an intense cut-off low that is currently lashing parts of the Western Cape. The Cape Winelands, Overberg, and West Coast districts have been the hardest hit by strong winds and heavy downpours. Parts of the Garden Route district are also expected to receive heavy rainfall later today and tomorrow.

The WCG and its partners have mobilised all necessary resources to manage this situation and are doing everything possible to mitigate the impact of this weather event.

“Our first priority as the provincial government is to ensure that we do everything we can to keep our residents safe during this severe storm. We appeal to everyone to please exercise extreme caution and avoid unnecessary travel,” said Premier Winde.

Disaster management and emergency services personnel across affected districts have been hard at work in both preparing for the weather system and responding to incidents. Other relevant role players remain on high alert. “The dedication and commitment of all our disaster management personnel, on the frontlines and behind the scenes, is remarkable. They have been working flat out to help residents. We are very grateful for all you have been doing in affected areas,” said Premier Winde.

The impact of the extreme weather so far is varied.

Schools

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) schools in the Overberg, Cape Winelands and Helderberg were closed for the day (8 April) as a precaution. The Premier and Provincial Minister of Education, David Maynier, reiterated that this decision was not taken lightly. Premier Winde said, “We want our children learning and at school, but in light of the level of the warnings, we felt it is better to be safe than sorry.”

Twenty-six schools have thus far reported damage from the weather in one way or another. Infrastructure maintenance teams were quick to respond with crews on site at various places of teaching and learning by yesterday afternoon already.

Roads

Authorities have been hard at work clearing roadways of debris. However, a number of roads have been affected and closed as a precaution.

For an updated list of roads impacted by the storm please visit the Western Cape Government website.

Provincial Traffic Services are on high alert and deployed in key areas to assist with traffic control and closures.

Power interruptions

The inclement weather has caused power outages in several towns in the West Coast district and in the Lourensford and Gordon’s Bay areas. Eskom has reported to the PDMC that it is attending to these faults and others as they arise.  “I am deeply concerned by the impact that the wind has had on electricity infrastructure. We saw the collapse of pylons in the Central Karoo in February which according to Eskom was as a result of high winds, and I remain concerned about the possible impact that the wind may still have,” said Premier Winde.

Health and Wellness

Healthcare services in affected areas remain operational. The storm may affect certain healthcare services such as HealthNet patient transport and mobile healthcare services. Please only visit healthcare facilities during this period if needed for essential healthcare needs.

Apart from the heavy rains, there were several major fires, both wildfires and informal settlement blazes, in numerous districts over the weekend that were fueled by gale force winds. At this stage, all fires have been contained, and the arrival of the rain on Sunday evening assisted in containing the fires. Unfortunately, many residents have been negatively affected and lost their homes. Officials from the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure are assessing the impact of the weather on several houses in the Cape Town and Winelands’ municipalities. The Department of Infrastructure together with the Stellenbosch municipality are on-site at the affected informal settlement area, in preparation for providing fire kits through the National Department of Human Settlements. The department is  also assessing the impact of the weather at Nomzamo in Strand.

Western Cape Department of Social Development services have been activated to offer assistance, particularly to affected and vulnerable residents. The Premier has expressed his deep gratitude to NGOs for stepping in to help. “Your ongoing assistance is critical. I would also like to appeal to all residents to reach out and help too, in whatever way you can. These kinds of incidents can bring out the best in our communities. Thank you to everyone who has helped someone in need.” he concluded.

To stay informed on the ongoing situation, kindly make use of the below communication resources:

Emergency numbers for the districts and City of Cape Town are as follows:

Cape Winelands:                               021-886-9244 / 021-8874446

Garden Route:                                   044 805 5071                                   

Central Karoo:                                    023-449-8000

West Coast:                                        022 433 8700                                    

Overberg:                                           028 4251690

City of Cape Town:                           107 landline or 021 480 7700    and   – 080-911-4357 (City of Cape Town Disaster Management Centre)

For information and latest updates about the impact of the storm on the Western Cape please:


 

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