Mother Nature hits Mother City and Winelands, floods affect Tourism!


Chapman's PeakMother Nature hit the Mother City and Winelands with a vengeance on Friday evening, with torrents of rain causing flooding and massive damage to tourist areas, which are closed for repair. More than 100 mm of rain was measured in most affected towns.

Accompanied by thunderstorms, the heavy downpours went on for hours, and the accumulated waters caused flood damage to many homes and businesses. Somerset West was worst hit, as the Lourens River burst its banks, flooding nearby houses, and the town received 200 mm of rain.  The 125 patients in the Vergelegen Mediclinic had to be evacuated when water reached knee-height, the patients being sent to its Stellenbosch and Panorama branches.  The N2 highway in the Somerset West area was closed on Friday evening, but has since been re-opened.  In Strand Beach Road was closed due to flooding, and many home and apartment owners were stuck in Medi Clinic Somerset Westgarages during power outages.  The X-ray unit of Strand Hospital caught fire due to an electrical short.  The scenic coastal road between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay has been closed due to rockfalls.  In Hermanus the local supermarkets were all flooded due to the volumes of rain.  Whale Cottage Hermanus had water come in under the door, the volume of water not able to run off quickly enough.   The road between Hermanus and Stanford is closed, as is the road to Creation wine estate*.  Our Whale Cottage Franschhoek has a river running through it, and thankfully it did not break its banks nor was there any other rain damage.  Vehicles had to be removed at the Franschhoek police station, just one block away from our guest house, when the water reached waist height. 200 mm of rain was measured on a wine farm outside the village.  The Franschhoek Pass is closed, due to rockfalls and mudslides.  Wine farmers are devastated about the rain, which is not welcome at this time of year, we read on Twitter.

In Cape Town the storm damage was concentrated on the Atlantic Seaboard, with significant damage caused on Chapman’s Peak due to rockfalls, mudslides, and sections of the road having broken off (photograph above).  It could take weeks for this sought-after tourist route to be repaired.  On Twitter cynics have Tweeted that no doubt the toll fee will go up to find funds to repair the massive damage on this road. Hout Bay Camps Bay road On Victoria Road connecting Hout Bay and Camps Bay a section of the road has also washed away, and a massive boulder rolled into the road.   The Twelve Apostles Hotel is isolated, and could not accept any new guests yesterday, due to the road condition, which is still closed.  Mudslides also affected Victoria Road at Bakoven.   We are grateful that our Whale Cottage Camps Bay did not suffer any rain damage, the roof having been leak-proofed during winter.

We salute all volunteers, and the City of Cape Town Rescue Services, for all their hard work in trying conditions in the past 24 hours, working on mopping up buildings and in making roads passable again.  It is a shame that visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands will not be able to enjoy the beauty of the coastal roads between Cape Town and Hermanus, one of the highlights of a visit toCamps Bay rainbow Whale Cottage Portfolio Cape Town.  Chapman’s Peak is likely to be closed for a considerable period.  Councillor Bev Schafer, responsible for Sea Point, Green Point, and half of Camps Bay, has been a fantastic news and photograph source, even though the damaged roads fall outside her area of jurisdiction.

As life is, this morning Camps Bay was blessed with the beauty of a most unusual low rainbow over the beach!

Bakoven Flood Whale Cottage PortfolioPOSTSCRIPT 17/11:  It appears that a guest house on Victoria Road built little rock pools and messed with the  rock formations next to it, where a river comes down from Table Mountain, normally flowing underneath Victoria Road at that point.  This is now blocked by rocks, meaning that the water is running over Victoria Road, and some of it is running through a bungalow belonging to the Rupert family.    We met a couple who had walked to Bakoven from Llandudno, saying that Victoria Road is in a bad way, with a massive tree covering the road, and sections of the road broken off. It gets worse on the Hout Bay side of the Twelve Apostles, and it appears that Victoria Road will be closed indefinitely for repairs to be done.

We also saw this photograph on Twitter, taken from Hout Bay, showing Chapman's Peak mudslidesthe mudslides from Chapman’s Peak.

POSTSCRIPT 17/11:  Creation* has Facebooked that the R320 has re-opened, allowing access to its wine estate again.

POSTSCRIPT 18/11:  Councillor Schafer has just Tweeted that Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay has re-opened.

POSTSCRIPT 18/11: The Overstrand municipality has advised that the Betty’s Bay/Gordon’s Bay and Hermanus/Stanford Roads remain closed until further notice.

POSTSCRIPT 19/11: Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay has some stop/goes, and one must travel slowly.  Chapman’s Peak will remain closed for another two weeks, while the damage is assessed.

POSTSCRIPT 20/11:   News24 has published the 10 ‘best’ flooding photographs from last weekend.

POSTSCRIPT 24/11:  There is talk that Chapman’s Peak may not re-open in time for the Argus Cycle Tour.  The two week evaluation of the pass is however not yet complete..  The road between Hermanus and Stanford was opened this weekend, but will be closed again from tomorrow, for re-tarring. The Franschhoek Pass has re-opened.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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