Streams of water ran right through the houses of Maraiskamp residents. A marshland adjacent to the area exacerbated the emergency situation, reckons Charmaine Botma (left). Photo: Pauline Lourens
More than 120 mm of rain poured down in less than 24 hours from Tuesday night till around 12:00 yesterday, turning streets into rushing streams, flooding homes and causing the Malgas River to rise over its one in 100 year floodline.
The Touw River overflowed, flooding the Sanparks offices in the Wilderness Park. The latter as well as Ebb & Flow and Pirate’s Creek had to be evacuated.
By midday yesterday, the Wolwedans Dam sluices were opened. The dam was overflowing and Die Eiland at the river mouth had to be evacuated. The low water bridge at Witfontein was two metres under water early yesterday morning.
Harold Basson, Civil Engineering director, said the Wilderness water purification works overflowed and had to be switched off. Alternative supply from George ensured that residents were not without water.
He said storm water systems in town overflowed, not because the systems were inadequate, but because of the amount of rain that fell. "The systems are designed according to national standards. Teams were busy throughout the night to handle serious cases of flooding and they remained on standby."
Rescue personnel from Eden Disaster Centre were busy since 04:00 yesterday morning when reports of flooding started to come in.
People struggled to get to work. During peak hour yesterday morning, with rain pouring down, long strings of cars moved at a snail’s pace, piling up along the main routes of George.
Some of the streets that were impassable or partly closed included St Mary’s Street in Rosemoor, a part of Courtenay Street at St George’s Square, the corner of Hope and Courtenay Street, Wellington Street at Nando’s, the circle in York Street (at old crocodile park) and parts of Union Street. Two trees fell over in the Outeniqua Pass, partially blocking the road. Provincial traffic had to regulate traffic.
The Rooirivierrif sport ground was flooded. According to Grobbie Grobler the wind blew a marquee tent in front of the club house to pieces and the cricket pitch "looks like a dam".
Several farms in the Geelhoutboom area were cut off from the rest of the world yesterday morning when all the rivers overflowed roads and bridges. The Palmiet River flooded its banks and three small bridges. The Molen River also pushed over the road. The area had about 125 mm of rain from Tuesday night till yesterday morning. An estimate of damage caused to bridges and drifts was not available yet.
Farmers in the Herold area are very happy with 100 mm of rain they received. Weeber Truter, chairman of Agri Herold and Klein Karoo, said the Doring River was running like during the floods of 1995, the Klip River was flooding its banks and the Eseljacht River was running strongly. These were some of the rivers that urgently needed water. He said they measured 125 mm in the Outeniqua mountains and 100 mm in Herold. They’ve had no stock losses, but a few fields were flooded.
Gerhard Otto, chief of Eden Disaster Management, said they started putting emergency measures in place early in the week after warnings of heavy rains predicted for the Southern Cape and Garden Route. Additional personnel were also on standby and all emergency organisations were put on high alert, including George Fire Brigade, ambulance services, SAPD, provincial and local traffic departments, water affairs and roads departments. Sand bags were filled at the George Munici-pality.
Annalize Lamprecht, head if Eden Fire Brigade, said they made sure that the river mouths were open. Sanparks pushed open the Touw River mouth early yesterday morning.
There were also efforts to warn residents in the different wards through sms’s and ward councillors.
She said most incidents of flooding where residents had to be evacuated were in the Conville and Rosemoor areas. There were isolated incidents in Lawaaikamp. "Squatter camps were affected the worst."
Severe flooding was also experienced in Knysna. At 08:00 yesterday morning, 73,8 mm was recorded. In Mossel Bay, where 42,6 mm was measured by 08:00 yesterday, flooding was reported in the Aslapark residential area. The Great Brak Primary School had to be evacuated.
The Robinson Pass between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn (at Ruiterbos), the Vleie road over the Duiwe River and the Vleesbaai turnoff from the N2 were closed yesterday morning.
The George Weather office predicted a 60% chance for rain today.
(Report compiled by Alida de Beer assisted by reporters Pauline Lourens, Lizette da Silva, Jannie Meyer and Christo Vermaak.)