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Predictions of heavy rainfall over the southern areas of South Africa have proven correct, with flash-flooding occurring in the towns of Somerset West and Strand to the east of Cape Town.
Somerset West suffered a power cut and the Lourensford River burst its banks, closing roads and forcing some people to seek refuge on the roofs of their houses. National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesman Craig Lambinon reported that the organization had assisted nine people who were trapped on rooftops.
The Vergelegen hospital in Somerset West had to be evacuated owing to flooding, with patients being ferried to other medical facilities in the area. Teams from the NSRI escorted ambulances as they negotiated flooded streets.
Somerset West has been declared a local disaster area and emergency services are working to assess the situation.
20 families were evacuated from a flooded caravan park at the coastal town of Strand and given food and temporary shelter in a nearby community hall, while an old age home is also reported to have been evacuated.
The South African Weather Service reports that over 90mm of rain fell in the Strand area on Friday night, while more rain is on the cards for the Cape Town area over the weekend.
Forecaster Kate Turner says, “Here in the Cape Town area, we might not get as much rainfall as what we had on Friday, however, we are expecting heavy showers for Saturday and Sunday. The heavy showers will be extending off to the South Coast as well for the entire southern part of the Western Cape.”
Emergency services have appealed to the public to avoid unnecessary travel, as a number of roads are impassable.
Unconfirmed reports are that the N2 national road from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town has been closed at the Sir Lowry’s Pass east of Somerset West, and rock falls are reported on coastal roads at Camps Bay and Gordon’s Bay.
Rough seas are expected along the coast and the NSRI has advised against going out to sea until the weather clears.