South African Cardinal-Elect prays for victims of Cape Town floods
By Sr. Titilayo Aduloju, SSMA
Devastating storms like the one that has caused death and destruction in the past week in southern South Africa are caused by cold fronts and are common in the Cape Town region and the Western Cape province, said the Provincial Government.
A recreation resort in the municipality of Oudtshoorn became submerged as the neighbouring Le Roux River overflowed, trapping 72 primary school students and 10 adults. They were, however, saved on Wednesday morning when the water had receded.
Rescue officials are still looking for people who they suspect to be trapped in partially submerged homes.
In the poor townships on the outskirts of South Africa's second-biggest city, many homes, despite being illegal and dangerous, frequently have improvised energy connections since residents link their houses or shacks to existing power lines themselves.
The thoughts and prayers of the South African cardinal elect
Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa and Cardinal elect, spoke with Vatican News on the recent flood in the area, “for those who have lost property, who have been injured, who have lost loved ones, our hearts, and prayers go out to them” he said.
The Cardinal elect expressed his assurance that the Churches and the community of believers would assist some individuals who are starting again in their lives.
“Our hearts go out to those in Cape Town and other parts of South Africa, for example on the south coast of the Cape and the Kiberge area," Archbishop Brislin concluded.
The flood resulted in loss of lives and properties
Parts of people's homes in the Western Cape, notably Sir Lowry's Pass Village, were submerged by floodwaters.
Many homes were flooded, roofs were ripped off, crops were ruined, and roads and other infrastructure were devastated as a result of the heavy rains.
The Emergency Services reported on Tuesday that the flood brought on by days of torrential rain in destitute informal settlements close to the South African metropolis of Cape Town resulted in the electrocution deaths of eight individuals, including four children, in two separate incidents.
Also, four individuals died in the eastern suburbs of Driftsands community when flooding disrupted electrical connections. In the Klipfontein community, four children were shocked to death, said the Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Department.
According to the Local officials, “three people died after they were swept away by flood waters in the mainly agricultural region of Overberg, just over 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Cape Town”.
Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the electricity minister affirmed that “More than 80 roads were closed and at least 15,000 homes were cut off from the power grid”.
Effects on agriculture
The floods also severely impacted the area's farmland, together with its famous vineyards, which would have a negative effect on harvests.
“The area is one of South Africa's most important wheat-farming regions and there were fears of major damage to crops and infrastructure from the flooding,” the Local officials affirmed.
About 200 farm labourers are still stuck in flood-affected areas. Efforts are being made to save them.
The area's famed vineyards and farms were both severely impacted, and it is anticipated that the harvest will suffer.
“A cold front in June caused around $50 million of damage to the agriculture sector in the Western Cape”, said the Provincial Government.
Dealing with the effects of the flood
According to Provincial Cabinet Minister, Anton Bredell, who is in charge of environmental affairs, “helicopters were searching for some people who had been trapped.” He added "We expect the worst there,"
Geordin Gwyn Hill-Lewis, the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, has signed a major incident declaration requesting further assistance and relief measures to deal with the effects of the rain.
In order to analyze the effects of the floods, the city has also closed the well-known Steenbras Nature Reserve and Gorge hiking route.
Also, parts of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces' rail services have been suspended.
“The destructive rains, which stopped on Monday came a week after the region experienced larger-than-normal spring tides,” Antony Bredell said.
In South Africa, Climate change has been blamed for several recent weather-related incidents.
For instance, more than 430 people died as a result of floods in KwaZulu-Natal in 2022, while Gqeberha, a coastal city, nearly ran out of water in 2022.
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