Storms bog down commuters across city

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By MATT MEDVED, MZOLISI WITBOOI & SANDISO PHALISOpage_7419179

Motorists have been forced to use alternative routes and hundreds of train commuters had to wade knee-deep through water today and yesterday after heavy storms flooded roads around the peninsula.

More than 200 residents of KwaKhikhi in Gugulethu, whose houses were also heavily waterlogged, said last night that they had been forgotten by the authorities, including their councillors.

Andile Nkwenkwana, 17, who lives on the corner of NY1 and NY65 in KwaKhikhi, said he watched hopelessly as water filled their two-roomed shack while his two older brothers were at work yesterday.

“There was nothing we could do because it was pouring hard outside. Before we knew it our shoes were soaked and the suitcases under the beds were all wet.

“We climbed on the bed waiting for the rain to stop and when it did, we realised |that the house has been surrounded with water. To our surprise our neighbours were in a similar situation,” said Nkwenkwana.

When his older brother, Sibuyiselwe Maholwana, arrived home from work, he “did not know what to do”.

“All my clothes are wet and I guess I will have to wear the same clothes tomorrow even though they are a little damp right now,” said Maholwana.

Neighbour Miriam Maliwa, who is a domestic worker in Hout Bay, said the bottoms of her cupboards were submerged in water.

“Our councillors did not even bother to visit us. All we want now is blankets and food, even though we don’t even know where we’re are going to sleep,” Maliwa said last night.

City traffic spokesman Searle Johannes said several roads were flooded during the yesterday afternoon’s peak period – with the M5 towards Ottery forced to close for |about an hour.

“There are lots of roads that were flooded but the water has subsided already. The only road that had to be closed for some time was the M5 towards Ottery. Traffic officers had to clean up drains that were clogged before the road could be used again,” said Johannes.

He said one outbound lane on De Waal Drive had been closed since Tuesday because of a mudslide.

Traffic was also backed up on De Waal, which was wet from the heavy downpours.

Duinefontein Road on the Cape Flats was overflowing with water, throwing traffic into chaos.

Sewer drains were overflowing on Paradise Road in Newlands, with water bubbling out of manholes like fountains and flooding the street. At least five waterfalls were cascading down the side of Table Mountain.

In Khayelitsha, some taxi drivers who got stuck had to use buckets to bale water from their vehicles after roads around the Nolungile train |station were in flood.

At least three taxis broke down and were abandoned by their drivers until the storms abated.

Bystanders said police arrived on the scene an hour after the roads were flooded and directed motorists away from the busy junction at Nolungile train station.

School children and people coming home from work on the trains had to cross the road carrying their shoes.

Resident Mziwakhe Makhonco, who lives near the train station, said the same thing happened last winter

“I have been standing here for the last 30 minutes and the situation does not promise to stop. I have to fetch my child from school and I am getting late. This shows that something needs to be done at this |road,” he said.

Taxi driver Monwabisi Khuntshulwa said: “I noticed the floods when I was coming to drop off some commuters at the Nolungile taxi rank.”

Capetonians opened their hearts and their wallets on CapeTalk radio today, and by noon, had raised money for around 10 500 blankets.

The provincial Department of Social Services also made a public appeal for blankets and other relief supplies.

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~ by Matt Medved on July 27, 2007.

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