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Thousands Rendered Homeless in Western Cape Due to Severe Gale-Force Winds and Torrential Rain

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Around 4,000 people in Khayelitsha found themselves homeless after gale-force winds destroyed over a thousand informal structures on Thursday, July 4th. They faced another challenge on Sunday as new cold fronts swept through, continuing the severe winter weather expected throughout the week.

Communities in the Western Cape struggled with heavy rain, damaging gale-force winds, and plummeting temperatures. Snowfall hit the Boland, Koue Bokkeveld mountains, and extended into the Karoo. The latest cold fronts, starting early Sunday, are forecasted to persist.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) upgraded wind warnings from Level 6 to Level 8, predicting widespread structural damage to settlements, both formal and informal.

Westerly to northwesterly winds, reaching 70–90km/h and gusting up to 120km/h, battered Cape Town and municipalities including Drakenstein, Stellenbosch, Overstrand, and Theewaterskloof.

The Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Anton Bredell, and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) highlighted Ward 99 in Khayelitsha as a priority, with nearly 1,000 structures destroyed and approximately 4,000 people left without shelter. Humanitarian aid, including meals and blankets, is being provided.

SAWS maintained severe weather warnings, including Level 6 for coastal waves from Cape Columbine to Cape Agulhas and snowfalls in the Western Cape mountains and southern Namaqua District.

Despite weekend rains not yet significantly impacting dam levels, the Department of Water and Sanitation anticipated changes as runoff fills dams, particularly noting Wemmershoek Dam at 77.8%. Controlled water releases into the Berg River are planned cautiously.

Bredell cautioned against sharing misleading information about dam levels, which could cause unnecessary panic and divert disaster management from critical tasks.

In Khayelitsha, concern mounted over setting up temporary accommodation for the displaced. Ali Sablay, operations manager at Gift of the Givers, reported efforts to provide blankets, warm clothing, and assist in various affected settlements across the Western Cape.

Road closures due to flooding affected several areas in Cape Town, with Eskom addressing line faults in various locations. The National Sea Rescue Institute advised caution along the coastline due to rough sea conditions exacerbated by winter storms and spring tides.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel, stay indoors, and heed reliable information sources during the severe weather.

Authorities remain vigilant as further cold fronts are expected, emphasizing preparedness and community support in facing these challenges.