#CapeStorm: Violent winds blow on, more damage expected
Residents in informal settlements have told Eyewitness News they're worried that the worst is yet to come.
CAPE TOWN – Authorities in the Western Cape are keeping close tabs on a storm that’s already claimed eight lives, left hundreds of homes flooded and has also resulted in the president being stranded in Cape Town.
Heavy rains and gale force winds have lashed the Peninsula on Wednesday, damaging homes and power lines, leaving thousands in the dark.
Many areas remain without power due to downed power lines and there have been numerous reports of trees blown over by gale force winds.
Western Cape local government spokesperson James-Brent Styan says, “Across the City of Cape Town we have since nearly 90 trees blown down, about 72 roofs blow off and several shopping centres sustained some damage, including Cavendish Square, Sommerset Mall and the Cape Town Convention Centre.”
Schools and universities were closed on Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
Residents in informal settlements have told_ Eyewitness News _they're worried that the worst is yet to come.
Walking through rows of shacks in the Taiwan Informal Settlement, a heavy smell of paraffin hangs in the air, as residents light stoves and candles to beat the biting cold.
This raises the risk of shack fires.
A councillor in the area, Nomfundi Moshani, says residents have no choice because many families still live without electricity.
“These people have been here for more than 15 years. This is what is happening all the time when it’s winter. As I speak I am afraid because some of them are old. There are those who are in wheelchairs.”
Some public halls have been made available to affected residents, while the adverse weather conditions persist.
Officials say children, the elderly and the disabled will be prioritised.
The storm is the worst in 30 years, and has brought with it torrential rain and gale force winds gusting at up to 100km per hour.
The weather has been keeping city disaster management officials on their toes. The City’s JP Smith says they expect the weather conditions to intensify.
"We are dealing with winds now of 65km/hour and greater, and will in some places like Cape Point Sir Lowry’s Pass reach up to 80km and 90km per hour."
Residents have been urged to avoid leaving their homes unnecessarily.
The weather has made it impossible for the president to fly out of Cape Town.
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The South African Weather Service says the storm is not done with us yet.
Meteorologist Michael Barnes says there is also the chance of snowfall.
“We have had a few reports of snow towards the Sutherland area we can expect the showers to be snow showers in the western mountains into this evening and in the early hours of tomorrow morning.”
The storm system's effects on the City of Cape Town have been extreme.
Hundreds of houses have been flooded and scores of residents are taking shelter in temporary accommodation.
There have been reports throughout the day of trees felled by strong winds, and localised flooding in low lying areas.
But the broader storm system is having wider reaching effects – it's driving berg wind conditions in the Eden Municipality that in turn are fanning dangerous wildfires.
Three people have died in those fires, bringing the total body count as a result of this storm to eight.
On the Peninsula, four people were killed when lightning struck an electricity pole and toppled onto them in Kraaifontein.
Another man was killed when his shack collapsed on him in Lavender Hill.
In Cape Town emergency services personnel are paying particular attention to the coastal areas, warning people not to go to close to the ocean.
WATCH: Cape Storm time lapse
The storm system has grounded the president.
Jacob Zuma was expected to address a gathering of editors in KwaZulu-Natal this evening, but the Presidency says because of the extreme weather conditions the President could not take off.
(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)