WATCH | ‘We were lucky to get out alive’: George residents describe flood ordeal
Bakkie driver dies trying to cross low-lying bridge
Unprecedented floodwaters took many George residents by surprise on Monday, with some losing all their possessions in a muddy deluge, while one man was killed near Mossel Bay when his vehicle was caught in the rising water.
Mopping up continued on Tuesday across much of the city, where some streets were badly damaged by raging torrents that damaged homes which, until recently, were on strict water rations.
Authorities confirmed the death of a double-cab bakkie driver who tried to cross a low-lying bridge about 50km away, near Mossel Bay, at 9am on Tuesday. The man, who police said was in his 70s, appeared to have drowned.
“We hardly came out of here with our lives,” said Jannie Taljaard while standing in front of his home on flood-ravaged Merriman Street. He and his family found themselves waist-high in water and scrambling to rescue household furniture.
“A flash flood came from the top. We were lucky to get out but the entire house is ruined. I don’t know what to say. We lost everything.”
Ismail Mongratie had to call in a removal company to pack away his possessions after floodwaters entered his house.
“Eventually the doors couldn’t hold and water came rushing through the garage,” he said. “Within five minutes the entire house was flooded, up to our chests.”
Resident Carol Eady said the storm water drain was unable to cope with the volume, resulting in a wave of water that washed away a wall.
“I’ve never seen so much water before,” she said.
The George municipality confirmed widespread infrastructure damage, road closures and the collapse of one section of road.
“Social development is on standby at community halls in affected communities for shelter, mattresses and blankets, meals and toiletries,” it said late on Monday.
“So far, most people who have been impacted have chosen to stay with family or near their homes to protect their belongings.
“There were several weather-related electrical issues which continue to be handled as they occur. As rain and thunder pose major risk to electricians, repairs were delayed at times.
“A major pipe burst, most probably because of flooding, is being repaired and affects large areas of the city that are without potable water. The matter is exacerbated by a raw water pipe burst over the weekend which had left supply depleted. Water trucks have been stationed at areas across the city.”
Western Cape MEC of local government, environmental affairs and development planning Anton Bredell on Tuesday said the impact of the storm was less severe than initially thought.
“I want to thank all the emergency responders, disaster officials and municipal officials for their leadership and hard work over the past two days. Their efforts made a huge difference and we are grateful to see the impact of the storm was much less severe than originally thought,” Bredell said.
“The preseason work in the river mouths leading to the ocean made a difference as the large volumes of water are rapidly flowing away.
“We are very happy to note the largest dams in the region are overflowing, including the new Garden Route Dam, which is overflowing for the first time in years.”