Western Cape floods could cost agriculture up to R1bn in damages
The Western Cape government says the cost of heavy rains and flooding to agricultural areas could run into millions of rand as relief efforts and mopping-up continue in various parts of the province.
While it is too early to give accurate figures on the extent of the damage, officials on Tuesday said, based on previous floods, the damage caused by the latest heavy rain on agriculture alone is estimated to be between R750m and R1bn.
Premier Alan Winde said it will take some time before the damage assessment is completed. He confirmed that two people died in the adverse weather conditions.
Winde said the focus of disaster management was on protecting lives, followed by the co-ordination of humanitarian assistance “to ensure that aid reached communities which had been isolated due to the flooding”.
“As we have a reprieve from the rain for the next few days, [the province] will prioritise the recovery and reconstruction, specifically road infrastructure, which has felt the full force of the flooding.”
A series of cold fronts between June 14-19 led to heavy rain and strong winds, resulting in flooding, damage to infrastructure and the uprooting of trees. Areas hardest hit include the Cape winelands and west coast.
Entities that assisted with disaster management include the South African Air Force, West Coast district disaster management, SARZA Search and Rescue, SA Police Service, National Sea Rescue Institute and Gift of the Givers.
“Our disaster officials worked around the clock. These operations can be difficult to manage, but their professionalism endured throughout this exceptionally difficult time, preventing further loss of life and damage to critical infrastructure.”
Local government, environmental affairs & development planning MEC Anton Bredell said co-ordinating a disaster response “of this nature requires many building blocks to be in place”.
“You need the appropriate infrastructure but, more importantly, you need highly-trained experts ready and willing to respond at any time.”
Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town warned that the persistent heavy rains led to rising water table levels, which has negatively affected operations at cemeteries.
The city’s recreation & parks department said there might be a need to temporarily prepare shallower graves until the water table subsides.
“This will limit the opportunity to bury a second coffin in the same private graves,” said Patricia van der Ross, mayoral committee member for community services & health.
She urged families to consider burying their loved ones during the week to avoid congestion at weekends, to keep burials within 30 minutes, and keep numbers small as parking, roads and pathways might be unusually flooded.
The city advised mourners to exercise caution when carrying coffins and avoid standing too close to open graves.