Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning said today that the disaster response of the Western Cape Government to the recent severe weather has now shifted from saving lives to recovery and humanitarian aid coordination.
Unprecedented rainfalls have been recorded, with the Overberg region receiving 142,6mm at the Overberg new weather station for the period 24 to 26 September. Stellenbosch measured 194.2 mm over the same period, and Molteno in Cape Town recorded 141.8mm, according to data supplied by the South African Weather Services.
Minister Bredell thanked all the different disaster units, law enforcement, rescue services of the province, and municipalities who worked throughout the long weekend to help save lives and who are now providing humanitarian support where it is needed.
Premier Alan Winde reiterated, “We are very appreciative of all the hard work our various disaster management, law enforcement, and emergency teams have been doing. Along with law enforcement agencies and NGOs, officials reported for duty even during the storms and worked tirelessly throughout the long weekend to keep residents safe. The safety of our residents is our greatest priority.”
The Premier added, “I again urge residents to exercise extreme caution as the disaster response now shifts to assessments of the extent of the damage and mop-up operations. This will take time and many affected areas will still not be accessible.”
Tragically several people have died. The Premier sent his heartfelt condolences on behalf of the provincial government to the families of the deceased. “I am devastated by the loss of life. My thoughts are with their families and loved ones,” he said. Families and loved ones of the deceased are being informed before further details are shared with the media.
“The City of Cape Town informed us that approximately 6 000 people have so far been identified as in dire need, but these numbers will increase over the next few days,” Minister Bredell said.
In the rest of the province, the Overberg region has been hardest hit, with several roads still closed and towns such as Arniston and Struisbaai being cut off via road access. Many roads are still closed, and this is making support functions more complex. “We are asking the public to remain patient in this regard,” said Minister Bredell.
We have so far identified a number of people in need of assistance, which ranges from basic supplies to medical evacuations requiring airlifts.
“Although it is still too early to calculate the cost of this storm, if viewed in the context of the June floods, and the recent coastal damages due to storm surges, this is becoming a very expensive winter for the Western Cape. Moving forward, the focus must be to further invest in early warning infrastructure and to make sure that new infrastructure is designed with adjusted climate change parameters in mind,” Minister Bredell said.