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By Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

WATCH: Western Cape may close up to 53 schools due to severe weather, 5 000 displaced

Premier Alan Winde said 15 000 people have been affected and up to 5 000 were displaced after their shacks were damaged.

The Western Cape provincial government plans to close up to 53 schools across six districts after severe weather made the instruction of learning difficult, and in some cases, impossible.

On Wednesday, a day after public schools across the country opened for the third term, some schools in the province remained closed due to flooding, inaccessibility to access routes, and damage to buildings.

A total of 137 schools have been impacted in the province, with 18 being flooded. The possible closure of the 53 schools is a precautionary response ahead of a level 8 weather warning issued by the South African Weather Service for Thursday.

Furthermore, 15,000 people have been affected and up to 5,000 were displaced in the province after thousands of shacks were destroyed or made uninhabitable across the province.

Affected districts and schools:

5,000 people displaced

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Wester Cape Premier Alan Winde urged residents to be prepared for severe weather conditions.

He was joined in the briefing by Minister for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell, Minister of Infrastructure Tertuis Simmers, Minister of Social Development Jaco Londt and Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre Chief Director Colin Deiner.

“We have got thousands of people who have been displaced from the beginning of the storm – high winds, flooding, cold weather, snow, that has resulted in not only people being displaced but also the closer of many roads.”

He said some roads were closed due to flooding in low-lying areas while other roads were closed due to snow in mountain passes.

“All of this has an effect on the citizens in the province,” he said.

Winde thanked disaster management workers as well as those who had donated to communities in need.

He also asked residents to listen when they were urged to evacuate or stay clear of an area.

“If there is no official but you see lots of water going across the bridge, don’t brave that bridge. We want to make sure that safety comes first in this province.

ALSO READ: Cape Storm: WC braces for another day of heavy rain and flooding

Bredell said disaster management had been activated since last Friday and has since witnessed rain and wind damage to many shacks, including 1,000 in Khayelitsha.

“We currently sit with around 4 000 to 5 000 informal dwellings that have been damaged, and 15 000 affected people.” He thanked NGOs such as Gift of the Givers and Lion Clubs that have helped provided these people with hot meals and blankets, among others.

Watch the briefing below:

Struggling districts

Deiner gave a presentation outlining the warnings received and the province’s response.

He said the City of Cape Town was the worst-hit municipality with 14,000 total structures damaged and/or flooded.

Cederberg, Citrusdal and Wupperthal in the West Coast District saw entire neighbourhoods cut off due to the flooding

The Cape Winelands District saw “moderate to major” problems, Deiner said, with localised flooding and electricity disruptions.

The Overberg District saw the same but only to a minor extent, while the Garden Route District was also only affected to a minor degree by strong winds and electricity disruptions.

Some direct disruptions:

• There are 11 000 electricity faults across the province;
• 18 schools were flooded;
• False Bay Hospital is the only hospital to be affected, with some electrical issues that have since been resolved;
• Agricultural damages in the West Coast and Overberg Districts;
• A vessel was in distress 400m off the West Coast but it has beached and the relevant maritime safety agency is dealing with the incident.

Deiner concluded by encouraging people to remain indoors and not attempt to cross bodies of water.

According to the South African Weather Service (Saws), a series of cold fronts are expected to affect the southern parts of South Africa until Friday.

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