Johannes Langerveldt’s shack in the Allan Boesak informal settlement was flooded to his ankles this past week. TRACEY ADAMS African News Agency (ANA)
Johannes Langerveldt’s shack in the Allan Boesak informal settlement was flooded to his ankles this past week. TRACEY ADAMS African News Agency (ANA)

Gift of the Givers to the rescue

By Keshia Africa Time of article published Jul 4, 2021

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As multiple areas across the Western Cape reported storm damage, NGO Gift of the Givers assisted residents at the Allan Boesak informal settlement with much-needed food and blankets after a week that left them drenched.

The City of Cape Town said that structures and houses along the Garden Route district showed signs of damage.

As a result of the severe rainfall, flooding had had a devastating impact on many informal settlements across the city.

Johannes Langerveldt is one of the residents of the Allan Boesak informal settlement in Strand. The 39-year-old construction worker is currently unemployed, as work is only available on a contractual basis.

Langerveldt lives alone in a shack that was damaged by the flood this past week.

“I felt like I was living in a dump. The water is up to my feet, and all of my belongings are destroyed,” he said.

He added: “My bed, my clothes and furniture are soaking wet. I don’t own much, but the little that I own has been damaged.”

He said that he felt despondent about his situation as he had been unable to stay at his home since the flooding started.

“I will have to stay with a friend for a night or two. I don’t know what I am going to do after that.

“This weather is making us sick, and it is a deep concern because we don’t know where to get help.”

JP Smith, City’s Mayco member for safety and security said that most of the flooding happened in areas with lots of dumping and littering.

“Usually canals are clogged up with debris which will cause flooding in severe weather conditions. Our biggest challenge is within informal settlements.

“70% of the settlements that have flooded are areas which flooded because they are new settlements that have been unlawfully occupied since last year,” he said.

These settlements have been declared unsafe for living by the City because they were erected in a wetland or on a water retention plant.

Smith said: “In these areas, there are stormwater pipes. When the stormwater system is overflowing, the water pushes into the retention plants, fills up and becomes dams.

“However, people have built their settlements here and on flatlands where rivers and canals would usually be.

“Naturally, the water would flood these spaces continually. Even if you pump the water out of these spaces, it will flood right back in.”

He said that there were no engineering solutions available for this.

The Disaster Risk Management winter preparedness programme runs as a preventative measure.

“Reactive damage control options are limited in times like this past week. We give people sandbags to keep water away from their structures, but the flooding is so pervasive that this makes no difference,” said Smith.

The Allan Boesak informal settlement has many elderly inhabitants and mothers with babies, and the majority of its population is unemployed and living below the poverty line.

An elderly resident from the informal settlement reached out to Gift of the Givers on the sixth consecutive day of flooding this past week. The NGO came to their rescue as all of their belongings were damaged by the flood.

Ali Sablay, project manager for Gift of the Givers said that it was disheartening to see what the residents were going through.

“Most people got paid on the 25th and bought groceries that were destroyed by the flood.

“Elderly people are laying on wet beds, with wet blankets in the cold conditions with little to no assistance available to them,” said Sablay.

The organisation provided the community with hot meals, blankets, clothes and care packages for moms with babies.

The SA Weather Service had forecasted that the cold front would continue to spread throughout the Western Cape this coming week.

Rain and cold conditions were forecast to continue, with a maximum temperature of 18°C. No big storms were forecast for this week, and there was a 60% chance of rain showers until Wednesday.

On Thursday, heavier rainfall is expected.

Meanwhile, dams in the province are filling up at a rapid pace. The Theewaterskloof dam was last reported at 93% capacity, up from 79% capacity on Monday.

The Clanwilliam Dam was at 55% capacity, up from 23% capacity on Monday.

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