Mother City braces for winter

Cape Town and its residents are working together to make it an easy winter for all.

Officials believe an early warning system will be key in mitigating the risk of flooding. Picture: iWitness/@ek_capetown

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town on Monday unveiled its winter plan aimed at mitigating the effects of the inclement weather on residents.

Details of the plan followed a weekend of heavy rain that left more than 300 shacks in Khayelitsha waterlogged.

A total of 9 high risk areas have been prioritised, including informal settlements in Fisantekraal, Phillipi, Gugulethu and Strand.

The City's Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith said homes built on flood plains are a major concern for them, but he is confident that they are as prepared as can be.

"We also have early warning systems in place this year around our major rivers and around our major flooding areas to detect that flooding as early as possible."

Cape Town Disaster Risk Management has struck an agreement with the Swartland Municipality to institute an early warning system around the Diep River in the case of flooding.

A similar system has been set up for the Lourens River in Somerset West, which is prone to flooding.

According to the South African Weather Service, Cape Town will experience below average rainfall during early and mid-winter, but above average rainfall is expected between July and September.

The City has also appealed to residents to help keep storm water systems clear by not disposing waste into drains as it could result in flooding, but also lead to unnecessary health risks.

"We need the assistance and cooperation of the public - they will be the first ones to notice a developing problem, such as a blocked drain. If they raise the alarm early, it can mean the difference between wide-spread flooding and localised problems," said the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater, Councillor Brett Herron.

Flooding, blocked drains and service disruptions can be reported to the City's Customer Contact Centre on 0860 103 089.


Dozens of big-hearted residents have been clearing their cupboards and hitting blanket stores to help the homeless keep warm this winter.

Around 1,500 blankets have been collected during two campaigns this month.

A Twitter blanket drive has bagged almost 1,100 polar fleece blankets, which tend to dry faster than regular blankets.

Organiser Merentia van der Vent says despite starting the campaign less than a month ago the response has been unbelievable.

Van der Vent says she was pleasantly surprised when she went to collect the blankets from a local hotel at the weekend.

"I thought we would get 800 blankets if we were really lucky. But when I walked into the hotel on Saturday, the general manager told me they had counted 1,100 blankets."

Another drive, led by non-governmental organisation Cape Town Angels, has collected around 360 blankets for homeless shelters during its own drive which it has been running this month.


The Red Cross Children's Hospital says it treats at least 1,000 children annually for burn wounds.

The hospital's Childsafe initiative says it's gearing up for a busy winter, as the season usually sees a spike in fire-related injuries.

The initiative's Sebastian van As says in many cases the victims are younger than six years old.

He says many of them are burnt by hot liquids when coffee, tea or boiling water are spilt on them.

Van As says many children are also wounded when playing near fires or when fuels such as paraffin spill over.

"It is absolutely important that caretakers and parents of children under the age of six are aware of the dangers paraffin presents."