STATEMENT ON THE STORM DAMAGE IN THEEWATERSKLOOF
25 September 2023
The Theewaterskloof Municipality has experienced catastrophic impact due to the inclement weather over the past 24 hours and are still in rescue mode.
At this stage, three fatalities have been reported. One person in Villiersdorp, another in Botrivier and a third from Vyeboom were swept away by flood waters and were later rescued by emergency teams.
Our disaster response teams have been on high alert throughout the weekend and worked tirelessly throughout the night and day to assist residents in need.
Today a joint disaster committee with ALL departments was activated and will remain in effect to manage resources and the impacts of the storm damage. Theewaterskloof’s Disaster Management Department and technical crews have been working with The Overberg District Municipality’s Disaster response team, Provincial and Local Traffic Services, the South African Police Services, the armed forces (SA National Defence Force, SA Navy, SA Army and SA Military Health Services), National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and various organisations in response to emergencies and relief efforts.
Access to many towns, roads and infrastructure within the Theewaterskloof area have been cut off as a result of roads that have been flooded or washed away.
Most of Theewaterskloof and the surrounding Overberg region have been without electricity for most of the day as inclement weather and road closures have made it difficult for Eskom technicians to access the infrastructure and determine where the faults on the power supply lines are.
In many towns residents are also experiencing low water pressure or water disruptions as a result of storm damage.
Throughout the Theewaterskloof area close to 2000 people have been displaced and are in need of humanitarian aid. In all towns, community centers are being used as temporary shelters, although many have opted to seek shelter with family and friends.
Last night 10 families, including a pregnant woman and a man who has a stroke, was evacuated by emergency services from Elgin Timbers in the Grabouw area. This morning 30 more people were rescued when the Klein River broke its bank.
In Caledon, one motorist was rescued before getting swept away and another four families were rescued from their homes.
An NSRI team was dispatched to rescue four people (stuck on their roofs) in the Greyton area, while residents from 20 additional households will have to shelter at alternative accommodation tonight due to their homes being flooded.
All events and sporting activities have been cancelled until further notice, while grounds teams wait for water levels to subside for mop-up operations to continue.
Theewaterskloof Municipality’s Municipal Manager, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said this is the highest ever recorded weather warning that the area has experienced and the devastation has been overwhelming.
“We have activated all our teams and engineers who have been working hard all day with the help of our local community organizations. Most of the intensity of the storm damage has impacted Grabouw, Caledon and Villiersdorp. Strong winds have uprooted major trees all along the national road the N2 from Grabouw and we are constantly clearing the roads. We placed our disaster response teams on high alert and they have been working around the clock to help our communities,” says Solomons-Johannes.
“Our informal settlements have been severely affected both in Grabouw and Villiersdorp. In most of our towns no one can get out. The N2 bridge has been washed away, the Hermanus road and all other connecting roads across our towns have been cut-off and we can’t get there. Our local disaster response and engineering crews are working in the area to assist and we have also together with the District and Provincial disaster response teams activated the Defence Force, but unfortunately they indicated this morning that they could not deploy their helicopter into the air due to string wind. We are doing our best to assist everyone in need, but we are currently dependent on our local crews and engineers.”
Solomons-Johannes says that while mopping-up operations continue, the major routes that have been damaged have caused many road closures and inaccessibility to towns and this remains a big concern.
“Water levels are still significantly high and we hope that when it stops raining, the levels will drop so that we can access our communities. We would like to ask all residents to stay indoors and avoid crossing rivers, as there is a likelihood that they will be washed away by the strong currents as many rivers in our areas have burst its banks,” he warns.
“Theewaterskloof is the corridor in and out of Cape Town and carries all the major traffic. We have received reports that no one can leave Bredasdorp, Hermanus or any of the other connecting towns, so unfortunately, no one can leave or come back to their homes. Roads on the N1 are also being closed.”
Mudslides and a sinkhole have also forced the traffic control and stop and go movements on the Sir Lowry’s Pass, that had been reopened earlier today.
As loadshedding and power outages continue, telecommunications in the Overberg region are also a challenge.
Motorists and residents are advised to follow our official website (www.twk.gov.za), social media pages and Collab Citizen App for all storm related updates.
If you would like to donate blankets, warm socks, shoes, toiletries, duvets, pillows or hot meals, our teams will be ready to receive donations at the following locations:
Thusong Centre -Grabouw
Resource Centre – Villiesdorp
Victoria Hall – Caledon
Community Hall – Botrivier
Community Hall – Riviersonderend
The Theewaterskloof remains on high alert and our teams will continue to work around the clock to ensure the safety of all residents and motorists travel within our area.
Wilfred Schrevian Evan Solomons-Johannes, Municipal Manager, Theewaterskloof Municipality, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: send all media enquiries to email@example.com
Issued by Communications Department, Theewaterskloof Municipality