Floods wreak havoc

Wallacedene flood victims blame City officials for their misery, saying they should have unblocked stormwater drains and heeded calls to build a wall at a retention dam.

There was knee-deep water in Swelleni Street on Wednesday July 24. Resident Mso Mbimba said almost every home was “wrecked”. The flooding had damaged appliances, mattresses and cupboards, and left people with no dry clothes.

The water washed away shack dwellers’ meagre possessions.

“Children couldn’t go to school for the whole week, from Tuesday July 16 till Friday because parents were scared their children would drown,” Mr Mbimba said.

And a retention dam at the top of Swelleni Street overflowed, adding to the deluge.

“Residents have asked the City to put up a wall around the dam or have the dam closed so that our children don’t go near there and drown but all of our requests are not answered. They just don’t care about Wallacedene,” he said.

Kgosta Molese said flooding had always been a problem in Wallacedene. People had to turn to their neighbours for help and homes and shacks became overcrowded and unlivable.

The City should compensate flood victims, he said.

“We don’t expect the City to reimburse 100% of valuables lost, but they do not even come close to help people,” he said.

In May, residents threatened to protest, following sewage spills in their streets. However, at the time, councillors shot back, saying residents had themselves to blame because they were blocking the pipes by dumping unwanted clothing, food and building materials in them (“Residents blamed for sewage spills,” Northern News, May 8).

Responding to the community’s latest complaints, Ward 6 councillor Simpiwe Nonkeyzana said he had raised residents’ “miserable situation” in Sub-council 2 and with City officials, but the budget was always an issue.

“I understand the frustrations people have… I have lived in this area for many years,” he said.

Officials had visited the area in May, at his insistence, he said, and after seeing the plight of the people, they had agreed to find solutions to the drainage problems. However, he conceded, the drains had not been cleared ahead of the rains.

Regularly cleaning the stormwater drains was a short-term solution, he said, and he encouraged residents to do their bit by not using the drains as a garbage disposal.

A long-term solution, he said, would involve reducing the population density in old Wallacedene by creating a separate residential area and a wider sewer network.

A wall around the retention dam could only be considered when there was money allocated for it, he said.

Flood victims could get water and blankets and could also submit claims to sub-council if they had incurred property damage, he said.

He added that he had an “open door policy” and residents could call him at 081 538 1920.

In a statement, Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre spokesperson Charlotte Powell, said the public could call 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 in an emergency.