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Vaal Dam restaurant owner evacuates after ‘fifth and worst flood since last year’

Farmers along the river banks are urged to take measures to prevent loss of life as the Vaal Dam and Bloemhof Dam sluice gates are opened to reduce water levels.
Farmers along the river banks are urged to take measures to prevent loss of life as the Vaal Dam and Bloemhof Dam sluice gates are opened to reduce water levels.
Image: Twitter/@crimeairnetwork

The owner of a popular eatery in the small town Bloemhof, situated on a bank of the Vaal River in the North West, says the latest floods are the worst of five since early last year.

Sias Meyer had to evacuate his restaurant and lodge Plek vanni Visarend on Friday after the dam's sluice gates were opened due to heavy rains.

“At least 80 houses are under water, people have been evacuating and some had to temporarily close down businesses. Last year we experienced four floods but this one is the worst.

“We evacuated. We can’t see our property because it is under water. Government should be helping but they are not. They are the ones who caused the floods because they did not open the gates on time,” said Meyer.

The national department of water and sanitation said the sluice gates remained open on Sunday, and outflow at the Bloemhof Dam has been increased to 3,000 cubic metres per second.

Meyer said he was frustrated. His confidence to continue doing business in the area was dwindling, as he had no recourse when flooding occurred. “We don’t have insurance. This is affecting us badly,” he said.

His business was recently resurrected after the Covid-19 pandemic when the floods started.

The town hosts annual fishing competitions which boost tourism and business.

Andries Maree, from the Freshwater Bank Angling Association (FSFBAA), said though there was devastation in the area, anglers could continue to fish. “Below the dam is where the problem is. Otherwise it’s fishable for now,” Maree said.

Wisane Mavasa, spokesperson for the department of water and sanitation, said all residents in settlements and towns along the banks of the lower Vaal and lower Orange rivers should consider evacuating or moving to higher places that are above the one-in-20-year flood line.

“These communities should refer to municipal development plans, local authorities and disaster management agencies for locations of the flood lines,” said Mavasa.

 “The department further urges farmers to remove livestock, movable property and equipment out and away from the river banks, and the general community should avoid any activity that may put their lives in harm’s way.”

TimesLIVE


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