Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Debris, power cuts and over 100 schools closed: Western Cape counts the cost of horror storms

Repairs on some of the schools have started.

More than 100 schools have been damaged in Western Cape as the province continue to battle severe weather conditions.

Stormy weather has lashed Western Cape over the past 72 hours, leading to road and school precautionary closures in parts of the province.

The Cape Winelands, Overberg, and West Coast districts have been the hardest hit by strong winds and heavy downpours.

Schools damaged

The Western Cape government had announced on Monday that at least 26 schools in the affected areas have been devastated by the weather.

At this stage, more schools have sustained structural damaged.

“We have already received reports of damage at 144 schools, ranging from minor issues such as leaks and fallen trees, to serious damage like missing roof panels,” Western Cape Education MEC David Maynier said in a statement on Tuesday.

Maynier said the damages were being assessed, with repairs on some of the schools having commenced.

The MEC also confirmed that schools in all districts, including Cape Winelands and Overberg, will be open from Wednesday.

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Only schools in Helderberg had been reopened on Tuesday.

“There may be schools that request closure due to severe infrastructure damage or inaccessibility.

“This will be considered by the department on a case-by-case basis through the normal procedures for requesting school closure. Schools with the necessary permission to close will communicate directly with parents,” Maynier added.

Some roads still remain closed as others slowly reopen.

“While a number of roads in the Overberg, Cape Winelands, Garden Route Districts have been affected, the situation is fluid and rapidly changing,” the Western Cape government’s statement reads.

The provincial government indicated that authorities have been clearing debris on some roads.

“Provincial traffic services have been deployed in key areas to assist with traffic control measures.”

Rising dam levels

Although conditions have been in the western parts of the province, there was heavy rainfall and rising water levels in the Garden Route district.

Dam levels in parts of the Karoo are also rising.

Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, Anton Bredell said the authorities were monitoring the situation.

“Even though the heavy downpours are expected to taper off during the day, we are closely monitoring this situation, as it can contribute to flooding downstream.

READ MORE: No major incidents as Western Cape battles severe weather conditions

“On our coastline, we are particularly concerned about estuaries at Mossel Bay and Wilderness. From the ocean side, there is a spring tide coinciding with storm surges due to the weather system.

“From the inland side, we are experiencing strong flowing rivers and overflowing dams. Taken together, these conditions are increasing the risks of flooding at estuaries, even if the river mouths are opened to the ocean,” Bredell said.

The South African Weather Services (SAWS) confirmed that a level 4 warning for disruptive rain over the eastern parts of the province will remain in place on Tuesday.

Rain can be expected to continue in the Garden Route District until Wednesday.

Power outages

While power has been restored in some areas, Western Cape premier Alan Winde expressed his concern over other places, which have been without electricity since the beginning of the disruptive weather

Winde called on Eskom to urgently restore electricity to all affected areas.

“Last night I phoned the general manager of the Eskom coastal cluster to offer any resources that they may need to respond to the outages,” the premier said.

Additionally, healthcare facilities remain largely operational despite intermittent power outages at some sites.

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