Flooding, winds batter South Africa’s Cape Town

Several areas of Cape Town were flooded Thursday after heavy winter rains and gale-force winds battered the city, ripping off roofs from homes and damaging thousands of makeshift dwellings, South African officials said.

The City’s Disaster Operations Centre said informal settlements around the city, including the major township of Khayelitsha, had been particularly affected by the flooding.

Several roads, including major highways, were flooded and there were concerns about rising water levels at dams.

“We are working on between 14,000-15,000 structures that have been affected but that number keeps changing,” provincial disaster management centre spokesman, Wouter Kriel, told AFP.

“Some are houses, some are structures… including informal settlements which have been badly affected,” he said.

An AFP correspondent saw several houses that had lost their roofs in strong winds that also bent power lines, with electricity outages reported in several areas.

Cape Town resident Sammy Gelord said the wind ripped off the roof of his home in the Wynberg suburb.

“I never saw something like that in my life — it just took the roof and everything,” he told AFP.

The Western Cape education department ordered dozens of schools across the city and other parts of the province to close Thursday because of severe weather warnings in place until Friday.

The South African Weather Service warned that “disruptive rain leading to flooding and possible mudslides” was expected for Cape Town as well as the Drakenstein and Stellenbosch areas beyond the city.

Several cold fronts have battered the region over the past few days, with mountainous areas experiencing rare heavy snowfalls. Authorities reported at the weekend that the extreme weather had left thousands of people homeless.

The Western Cape provincial government has appealed to national authorities for emergency aid.


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