Disaster teams making progress in W Cape

Pretoria – Progress is being made as the rains are beginning to clear off in the Western Cape, said the NATJOC Priority Committee Disaster Management.

In a statement on Thursday, the National Joint Operations Centre (NATJOC) Priority Committee Disaster Management said it received a report from the Western Cape teams on the ground coordinated through the Provincial Joints Operation Intelligence Structure (PROVJOINTS) and the Provincial Disaster Management. 

“After a few days of the Cape Coast being battered by heavy storms and rains, the situation on the ground remains dire with many community members negatively affected by this extreme weather conditions,” said the committee.

This as the South African Weather Services (SAWS) indicated that intense cold frontal system that caused the recent severe weather over the Cape Town region is moving eastwards south of the country. 

The weather has largely cleared up over Cape Town and the west coast, and the wind has weakened drastically. 

As the rains are beginning to clear off, the runway fires are raging in some parts of the Cape, especially areas around Knysna. The committee requested communities to remain cautious as showers are still expected.

Meanwhile, an estimated 8000 – 10 000 people have been evacuated from various areas as various teams on the ground are working around the clock to ensure that those displaced are assisted.

Road infrastructure in some areas are not accessible due to damages and fire in some areas.

Some of the suburbs of Knysna that have experienced severe devastation include Brenton-on-Lake, Nania, Eastford and Knysna Heights, among others.

“To this effect, humanitarian support is being coordinated for all the displaced residents of the greater Knysna area, after devastating fires on Wednesday, whilst also assisting those affected by the storms and heavy rains that battered the Cape.”

The Committee said a wide range of humanitarian agencies and government are already providing assistance.

It was also noted that telecoms network has been disconnected due to heavy storms and fires that continue to rage. Telkom teams are on the ground and working around the clock to restore communications.

In addition, efforts to restore communication networks are in some areas hampered by the continuing fires and heavy storms.

“The Defence Force appraised the NATJOINTS that the request to deploy helicopters has been approved and three Oryx Helicopters have been deployed. The deployment of the three helicopters will go a long way in assisting to extinguish the raging fires,” said the committee.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Affairs has deployed the Working for Fireteam to assist in the Western Cape to extinguish the current fires in the Southern Cape.

“At present, the extreme weather conditions have also resulted in the destruction of property and infrastructure. Some roads and bridges have been negatively affected as some are damaged and are not accessible. Communities and drivers are urged to be vigilant when using some of these affected roads.”

The NATJOC Priority Committee Disaster Management said while nine lives were lost, the successful evacuation of those affected by the extreme weather conditions suggests that disaster management planning was a success.

“The disaster teams will continue to implement plans to ensure the safety of people and infrastructure.” – SAnews.gov.za

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