Inclement weather leaves a trail of destruction across the province; forces some schools to shut

Somerset Mall closed due to roof damage from severe winds. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Somerset Mall closed due to roof damage from severe winds. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 8, 2024


More than 40 schools remain closed on Monday as a severe weather system swept across the Western Cape, unleashing gale-force winds that left a trail of destruction in their wake, with roads, schools, properties and health-care facilities sustaining damage.

There were several emergency evacuations across the city, including Somerset Mall, after roof sheeting was blown off.

This comes as the South African Weather Service (SAWS) issued a level 9 weather warning of a cut-off low weather system making landfall on Saturday evening.

The City’s disaster management reported roofs blown off in Khayelitsha, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, Macassar, Strand and Delft.

Residents of Morkel Cottages, Strand, were evacuated due to the heavy rains and strong winds.

“The Somerset West Methodist Primary School has also suffered extensive wind damage.”

“The Energy Department is working on restoring power lines and supply in numerous areas, including Claremont, Fish Hoek, Athlone, Durbanville, Mfuleni, Kuils River and Plumstead. There have also been numerous reports of uprooted trees in Somerset West, Philippi, Mitchells Plain and Sea Point.

Currently, road closures include Baden Powell Drive, Clarence Drive and the R44 and Main Road, Fish Hoek,” said City disaster risk management spokesperson Charlotte Powell.

The N1, Huguenot Tunnel, was reported closed in both directions, while falling trees resulted in several road closures in Blaauwklippen, Keerweder, Elsenburg and Helshoogte.

By Sunday afternoon some of the routes were reopened after trees were removed, while Chapman’s Peak and the R44 Clarence Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els remained closed.

A a lamp-post that fell on a parked car in Sea Point due to gale-force winds. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Several areas in Drakenstein were experiencing electricity outages due to strong winds that either ripped out electricity cables, or blew over electricity poles or trees onto the overhead electricity cables.

Eskom said they were experiencing major backlogs to restore electricity supply due to multiple faults in the province caused by the inclement weather conditions.

“Our teams are on the ground removing fallen trees and debris, repairing power lines, and attending to wind-related damage such as collapsed roofs and traffic lights.

“We are aware of more than 30 houses in Drakenstein that have lost their roofs during the night and this morning.

“Some homes also suffered structural damage. We are making emergency accommodation available to residents in need in our community halls across Drakenstein,” said Drakenstein mayor Stephen Korabie.

@ayandajongilanga #stellenbosch #weather #kasistories #cityofcapetown #strongwinds #storm ♬ original sound - Ayanda

Premier Alan Winde, Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, and head of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) Colin Deiner on Sunday held a media briefing on preparations undertaken to manage the impact of the severe weather.

“We have mobilised all of our resources to be on standby to respond where needed and we appeal to you to not take unnecessary risks and listen to the instructions of law enforcement and traffic authorities,” said Winde.

Winde said a decision had been taken to close all Western Cape Education Department (WCED) schools in the Cape Winelands district, Overberg and Helderberg basin today, as a precaution.

Education MEC David Maynier said the affected schools will communicate to parents in this regard.

“We may also close selected schools on an ad hoc basis if damage to a school building requires this.

Giant strawberry at the Thirsty Scarecrow in Stellenbosch damaged by gale-force winds. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

“Our default position is always to keep schools open but are mindful of the severity of the warnings in place, including a level 9 warning for the Overberg and southern Cape Winelands. We have not taken the decision to close these schools lightly: we have done so out of an abundance of caution to protect our learners and school staff.

“So far, we have already received reports from a number of schools that have been damaged by high winds, and our infrastructure team is currently assessing the damage,” Maynier said.

Schools included Helderberg Laerskool, Macassar Primary, Nomzamo High School, False Bay Primary and Hottentots-Holland High School, among others.

He added that they would re-evaluate the weather on Monday to determine whether any closures were necessary on Tuesday.

Cape Times