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Cape Storm: Were You A Victim?

Author: Megan Ellis
Date: 2017-06-07
The Western Cape took Wednesday's storm very seriously. Were you impacted by it? Here's what to do next!
The Western Cape took Wednesday's storm very seriously.  The provincial government went so far as to close local schools because of the danger associated with the storm.  We took a look at why there was so much hype around the storm; what you can do if you were a victim of it and how you can protect yourself in future.

Why Was Everyone So Serious?

While some people joked about watching their pools fill and the storm being underwhelming, the City claimed it was nothing to scoff at.  The province's government cabinet even held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to discuss the storm, a statement said. Concerns were for the general well-being of the residents of Cape Town during the storm, as well as the displaced who were expected to be severely impacted.  Large swells, gale force winds and pelting rain was expected to endanger the lives of Cape Town residents.  Not only were schools urged to close for the day, but employers were urged to allow their employees work from home. You may think this was slight over-reaction to the season's first storm, but Wednesday's storm had been described as the worst in 30 years. According to government, some of the expected results of the storm were:
  • Winds of up to 90km per hour (higher speeds possible in some areas)
  • Up to 50mm of rain in a 24-hour period
  • Sea swells of 10 to 12 metres
Other risks include mudslides, informal settlement fires and widespread power outages.  Although the storm held a lot less power than expected, there was still widespread damage and losses throughout the City. 

Were You Affected?

Reports came in throughout the day of uprooted trees, roof tiles being damaged and the roof at Cavendish Mall collapsing in. Flooding also impacted many informal settlements including Lavender Hill.  With the addition of the Spring Tide, many residents near the coastal regions experienced higher than usual sea levels.  If you were one of the unlucky victims of the storm, the good news is that your insurance will definitely pay out for any damages or losses experienced. Essentially, you can claim for damage or loss to property for any of the following:
  • Falling trees through property walls;
  • Damage to property due to rain, hail or heavy wind;
  • Consequential losses. This will include the scenario should your roof blow off and the interior of your home is affected and furniture damaged; 
  • Loss of property to the ocean in low-lying and coastal regions;
  • Damage to motor vehicles when on the road. This includes any accident due to slippery conditions or the intake of water into the engine due to flooded roads;
  • Damage to parked vehicles due to flying or falling debris. (Falling trees would be an example).

What Should You Do In Future?

If possible, you should rather stay at home and indoors during storms in Cape Town. Any unnecessary travel should be avoided. Highways in the province, especially near Cape Town, are prone to flooding even during normal storms. 2016 saw many of the cities highways flooding, causing severe backups that lasted for hours. If travel is unavoidable, these helpful hints could save your life during extreme weather conditions and storms:
  • Increase following distance significantly.
  • Be alert of any potential sudden changes in driving conditions (e.g. hitting a puddle).
  • Make sure you can get clear visibility. Don't drive with faulty headlights, brake lights or windscreen wipers.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes. Stay in one lane as much as possible.
  • Brake progressively before a bend - you will need extra time to slow down and prevent skidding on the curve.
  • If conditions become so severe that you cannot see anything, rather pull over off the road and wait for visibility to improve. Use your emergency indicators.
  • Drive significantly slower, but do not drive so slow that you are a hazard
But being at home doesn't mean you don't need to take precautions. In terms of protecting your home, the City of Cape Town has a few tips:
  • Make sure that drainage pipes on your property are not blocked
  • Make sure that the stormwater gutters around your property are free from debris
  • Check for dead or burnt trees that have the potential of falling onto your property and causing damage
  • Place sandbags where necessary to protect critical areas
  • Check the terms of your insurance policy with regard to flood and mud damage
  • In informal settlements, raise the floor level of your home to be higher than the land outside
  • Listen to weather warnings that are issued by the South African Weather Service
You should also bring any objects that could be carried by the wind indoors. You don't want you temporary gazebo flying into someone's car.  

Emergency Numbers For Just In Case

Should you find yourself in an emergency, you can call 112 or 10177. There are also emergency numbers available for specific districts. You can see them below: Cape Winelands: Langeberg Municipality - 0860 88 1111 Eden District:  044 805 5071 Central Karoo: 023 414 2603 West Coast: 022 433 8700 Overberg: 028 271 8111 City of Cape Town:  107 landline or 021 480 7700

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