Further reports emerged yesterday afternoon of the extent of flooding in the northern parts of South Africa, with a woman missing after her car was swept away by floodwaters in Brits, Northwest Province, on Tuesday.
Emergency services divers were called after the woman and her car disappeared under waters estimated to be 7m deep. Four other occupants of the vehicle were rescued. The 56-year old woman’s car was one of four washed away after a low-level bridge near the Brits shopping centre was overtopped by floodwaters.
Two houses were reported to have collapsed as a result of flooding in Majakeng, near Mooinooi and another 30 were flooded.
The sluice valves of the Hartebeespoort Dam, which was overflowing, have been opened and people living downstream of the dam have been urged to alert authorities to any threat of flooding.
Spokesman Lesiba Kgwele said the province’s disaster management centre and emergency services have been placed on high alert as the SA Weather Service has forecast more heavy rain in the province over the next few days.
In Guateng province, Johannesburg Emergency Management Services rescued four people after their vehicles were trapped in floodwater in Westdene on Wednesday, after the Westdene dam overflowed and flooded Lewes Road in the suburb.
“Two people were rescued from a car and two others were rescued from a taxi that was stuck in the water,” said spokesman Robert Mulaudzi. Motorists were advised to avoid Lewes Road and use Perth Road and Main Road as alternatives.
In the Pretoria suburb of Centurion, emergency services used an inflatable boat to bring a homeless man to safety after he was trapped by stormwater from the flooded Hennops River, having first to a yellow plastic roadworks barrier for an hour and then moving to a nearby tree for safety.
Several roads in Centurion including Lenchen Avenue and Nellmapius Drive were flooded, said Tshwane metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, adding that the bridge over the Apies River between Hercules and Capital Park was closed briefly after it flooded, while flooding had also been reported in Ga-Rankuwa and Soshanguve. This follows flooding in Centurion in early February 2014.
With more rain forecast, Gauteng residents were urged to take care when crossing flood-prone areas, including areas around Soweto such as Dobsonville, Orlando West, Klipspruit Valley Road and Dube.
In Mpumalanga province, where the Crocodile Gate to the Kruger National Park has been closed by floodwaters, guests have been advised to use the alternative route from Lower Sabie Camp to access Crocodile Bridge Camp, but to avoid crossing low-level bridges in the park where they are flooded.
Guests were further advised to contact the Park for changes to bookings as the Wolhuter Trail, Bushman Trail and the Sweni Trail have also been closed due to heavy rain.
Advice to Residents in Flood Situations
Drowning is the leading cause of flood-related deaths, with the most occurring during flash floods, said Gauteng Emergency Services spokeswoman Nana Radebe, adding “It’s hard to believe, but even six inches (15cm) of moving water can knock you off your feet”.
She advised residents in flooded areas to also stay away from power lines and electric wires, as “electrocution is also a major cause of deaths in flooding because electrical currents (can) travel through water”.
Tshwane Emergency Services spokesman Johan Pieterse urged residents to keep children away from open water in the veld (fields), rivers and ponds. He also warned motorists not to cross low-level bridges when in flood.
“Motorists must be on the lookout for fallen trees, or potholes that might open up during the constant rain” Pieterse added.
Christina Thaele, forecaster at the National Forecast Centre in Pretoria, warned on Wednesday that the risk of flash-flooding of river systems remains very high with ongoing rainfall and heavy downpours expected over the next few days.