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Severe storms and flooding<h2 class="sectHeading">When storms become disasters</h2><p>Severe storms produce a lot of rain – rivers can burst their banks and flooding can occur across large areas of the city, damaging property and risking the health and lives of ordinary people.</p><p>Our severe storms are linked to cold front and low-pressure systems, moving from west to east. Severe storms occur mainly during the winter months in the south-western Cape. Winds in Cape Town can get up to 100 kph or higher and can cause a lot of damage to the city – roofs can be blown off and trees are uprooted. Hail is also a threat and can cause major damage too.</p><p>The most important thing is to make sure your family is safe. In an emergency, call the Public Emergency Communication Centre on <strong> <em>107 </em></strong>from a landline or <em> <a>021 480 7700</a></em> from your cellphone. </p><div class="notification with-heading dark-copy pink bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info note"></i> </div><div class="desc"><h4>Please note</h4><p>Those living in low-cost housing or informal settlements are the most vulnerable. If you live in the Cape Flats area, you should be prepared for winter weather, especially if you live in a home which is not very stable. See our flood-wise pamphlets and disaster preparedness guideline in the document download section below, for help, tips and advice.</p></div></div><h2 class="sectHeading">Know your flood risk</h2><p>Make sure you know if you live in a potential flood zone. Your community officials or <a href="">Disaster Risk Management Centre</a> are your best resources to learn about the history of flooding for your region.</p><p>Ask whether your property is on the floodplain and if it is above or below the flood stage water level. For example, if you live near a river or stream, it is possible you are in a flash-flood zone. Low-lying ground such as the Cape Flats area is a possible water-table flooding zone.</p> <span> <div class="notification with-heading dark-copy pink bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info note">​​​</i> </div><div class="desc"><h4>Please note</h4><p> <b><strong>Be wary of flash floods</strong>:</b> Flash floods develop quickly and can occur anywhere and at any time – even when there hasn't been much rain where you are. Be very careful as flood waters are likely to be deeper and moving faster than you would perceive them to be.</p></div></div> <h2 class="sectHeading">Types of flooding</h2> <p>Flooding in the Cape Town municipal area is complex because of the different types of flooding that can happen and the various ways they are linked.</p> <p> <strong>There are seven types of floods in Cape Town:</strong></p> <b>Stormwater flooding or surface run-off</b> <p>High-intensity rainfall can cause flooding when the stormwater systems and canals do not have the necessary capacity to drain away the amount of rainwater. Flooding (usually in urban areas) may also be caused by the lack of adequate drainage or caused by water running down surfaces that do not absorb water easily (e.g. hardened surfaces such as tarred roads) and running down mountain slopes in urban areas.</p> <b>Water table or seepage flooding</b> <p>This type of flooding occurs due to a high water table that results in water rising above ground level. This is often experienced in the Cape Flats areas of Cape Town, especially in what are considered the old wetland or vlei areas, after significant winter rainfall which fills the underground aquifers.</p> <b>River (riverine and estuarine)</b> <p>Flooding due to rain or severe storms in the catchment areas of our major rivers leads to the rising water level of these rivers and estuaries. The floodplains along the river may even have water levels rising to the 1 in 50-year and 1 in 100-year flood levels thereby creating a danger to those within those areas.</p> <b>Flash floods</b> <p>Flash flooding happens when intense thunderstorms result in large quantities of rain into steep or urban watersheds in a short period of time. Flash floods are difficult to predict, but even small, insubstantial or dry rivers and streams may suddenly experience an extremely rapid rise in water level with a very strong flow, and can therefore present many dangers.</p> <b>Coastal or marine flooding</b> <p>Coastal areas may be flooded by seawater due to severe storms (sea or storm surge) or geological events such as earthquakes under the ocean (tsunami).</p> <b>Ponding</b> <p>Refers to low-lying and/or marshy areas (vleis) with poor drainage soils, resulting in the accumulation of water that can take weeks to evaporate.</p> <b>Leaking</b> <p>Localised flooding occurring in the inside of poorly constructed buildings that are not properly water-proofed.</p> <h2 class="sectHeading">Educate your family  </h2> <p>Print out our safety brochures below; and make sure they are available for everyone to read. These documents are also available in the document downloads section. </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank">Flood Safety in Informal Settlements </a> <br> <a href="" target="_blank">Floods: Warning, Preparedness and Safety </a> <br> <a href="" target="_blank">Flood-wise: Understanding the Risk</a><br><a href="" target="_blank">Flood-wise: Preventing Flooding</a><br><a href="" target="_blank">Flood-wise: Early Warnings</a><br><a href="" target="_blank">Flood-wise: If a Flood Occurs </a> <br> <a href="" target="_blank">Be Flood-Wise</a><br><a href="" target="_blank">Prepare for Flooding Infographic</a>. </p> <h2 class="sectHeading">Prepare a family emergency plan</h2> <p>By drafting your own family emergency plan and identifying all your risks, you are in a much better position for any disaster. Complete our Family Emergency Plan, which you will find in the <a href="" target="_blank">Family Disaster Preparedness Guidelines,</a> for details on how to prepare:</p> <p> <b>If there is time, these steps can be taken before the floodwaters arrive:</b> </p> <ul><li>Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.</li><li>Move valuables, such as documents, jewellery, clothing and photographs to upper floors or higher elevations.</li><li>Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic bottles with clean water. Sanitise the sinks and tubs first by using bleach, rinse, then fill with clean water.</li><li>Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and refuse bins inside, or tie them down securely.</li></ul> <span> <div class="responsive-media"> <iframe src="" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div></span><span> <h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Plan and practise an evacuation route​​​​​​​</h2></span> <ul><li>Learn flood-warning signs and your community's alert signals.</li><li>People living in potential flash flood areas should have several alternative routes.</li><li>Request information on preparing for floods and flash floods.</li></ul> <h2 class="sectHeading">Develop an emergency communication plan</h2> <p>In case family members are separated from one another during floods or flash floods (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.</p> <p> <b>We recommend you take the following actions:</b> </p> <ul><li>Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance.</li><li>Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.</li><li>Teach all family members how and when to turn off the gas, electricity and water.</li><li>Teach children how and when to call emergency numbers (police, ambulance, fire and rescue services, electricity and water services), and which radio station to tune into for emergency information. See our <a href="">list of emergency numbers</a>. </li><li>Be prepared to evacuate at any time.</li></ul> <h2 class="sectHeading">Disaster supplies </h2> <p> <strong>Keep these supplies in case of emergency:</strong></p> <ul><li>Torches and extra batteries</li><li>Portable, battery-operated radio (and extra batteries) tuned to a local station so you can follow emergency instructions</li><li>First aid kit and manual</li><li>Emergency food and bottled water</li><li>Non-electric can opener</li><li>Essential medicines</li><li>Cash and credit cards</li><li>Strong shoes</li><li>Cell phones</li><li>Dry clothing</li></ul> <p>If you live in a frequently flooded area, keep stock of emergency building materials like plywood, plastic sheeting, timber, nails, hammer and saw, pry-bar, shovels and sandbags. Have check-valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.</p> <h2 class="sectHeading">Flooding in the home</h2> <p> <strong>Follow these tips if a flood does hit your home:</strong></p> <ul><li>Do not attempt to cross flowing water in your car. As little as 20 centimetres of water depth may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.</li><li>If advised by the authorities to evacuate, do so immediately.</li><li>Read or watch the news for updates on road conditions.</li><li>Move to a safe area before access is cut off by flood water.</li><li>Don't walk through flooded areas. As little as 20 centimetres depth of moving water can knock you off your feet. There may also be hidden objects in the water which can hurt you or your family.</li><li>Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is another major source of deaths during floods as electric current passes easily through water.</li><li>Look out for animals – especially snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods too. They may seek shelter in yours.</li><li>If the floodwater starts to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor or the roof, if there is one. Take disaster supplies with you – see the list above – then wait for help.</li><li>Don't try to swim to safety – wait for rescuers to come to you.</li><li>If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there.</li></ul> <h2 class="sectHeading">Driving in a flood</h2> <p>Don't drive through a flooded area. If you are faced with a flooded road, turn around and go another way. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else!</p> <ul><li>If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many people have died trying to move stalled cars.</li><li>Avoid low water crossings.</li><li>Use alternative routes to avoid flood prone areas.</li><li>Leave your vehicle immediately if it stalls in flood waters.</li><li>Move to higher ground if you can do so safely.</li><li>Most cars and light trucks or SUVs may begin to float in as little as 30cm depth of water!</li><li>Act quickly – rising waters make vehicle doors difficult to open.</li></ul> <span> <div class="notification with-heading dark-copy pink bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info note">​​​</i> </div><div class="desc"><h4>Please note</h4><p> <b>If you are outside:</b> Everyone, especially children, should stay away from flooded streams, rivers, canals or drainage ditches. Swiftly flowing water can quickly sweep away even the strongest swimmers, and soggy banks can collapse, dumping you into floodwaters.</p></div></div></span> <h2 class="sectHeading">After a flood</h2> <p>Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to go down. Listen to the radio or check the alerts online. Don't return home until authorities tell you it is safe to do so. </p> <p> <strong>We also recommend following these tips:</strong></p> <ul><li>Remember to help your neighbours who may require special assistance – especially infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.</li><li>If your home or building has suffered damage, call the insurance company or agent who handles your flood insurance policy right away to file a claim.</li><li>Before entering a building, inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. Don't go in if there is any chance of the building collapsing.</li><li>When you go back into a building, don't use matches, cigarette lighters or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a torch to light your way.</li><li>Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.</li><li>Floodwaters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms and factories. If your home has been flooded, protect your family's health by cleaning up your house right away. Throw out foods and medicines that may have met floodwater.</li><li>Until local authorities proclaim your water supply to be safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation vigorously for five minutes before using.</li><li>Be careful walking around. After a flood, steps and floors are often slippery with mud and covered with debris, including nails and broken glass.</li></ul> <h2 class="sectHeading">Inspecting a damaged home</h2> <b>Check for gas leaks</b> <p>If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbour's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.</p> <b>Look for electrical system damage</b> <p>If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician for advice.</p> <b>Check for sewage and water line damage</b> <p>If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the <a href="">Water and Sanitation Department</a> and avoid the water from taps. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.</p> </span>GP0|#afe0f6c5-5f33-4d86-9697-30d8759a483b;L0|#0afe0f6c5-5f33-4d86-9697-30d8759a483b|Severe storms and flooding;GTSet|#ef3a64a2-d764-44bc-9d69-3a63d3fadea1;GPP|#e1eec47d-9c40-4859-a001-a519b50f3e4a;GPP|#df0a3405-0ca1-4617-8047-15a034219fee;GPP|#245ec7aa-a528-4cd3-bcac-597c292db711;GP0|#9e7affb1-1897-4a3d-91b1-4ff210463125;L0|#09e7affb1-1897-4a3d-91b1-4ff210463125|Severe storms and flooding;GPP|#c6d118c1-4a38-4635-ae3d-bf9f7ef0f2a3;GPP|#36dcb5fe-6bfc-4ae9-92d7-8bd08d1f6414;GPP|#af370586-9ba3-404a-9d6e-02066ca42752Be prepared for winter storms, severe rains and flooding



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