South Africa's Cape Town is hit by more storms, with 4,500 people displaced by floods and damage

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — (AP) — The South African city of Cape Town and surrounding areas were hit by more storms Thursday that ripped roofs off houses and caused widespread flooding, forcing at least 4,500 people out of their homes and damaging at least 15,000 structures, authorities said. The devastating weather began a week ago.

Multiple cold fronts have battered the region on the southwest tip of Africa since late last week, bringing record rainfall in some parts and gale-force winds. City authorities said the bad weather was expected to continue until the weekend and possibly into next week.

The Wynberg neighborhood of Cape Town was littered with damage Thursday morning after the latest front hit overnight. The strong winds blew off roofs, destroyed parts of houses and other buildings, and brought down electricity poles.

The City of Cape Town said its Disaster Operations Centre worked through the night to respond to calls for help from residents.

At least 4,500 people were displaced and 15,000 structures damaged in and around Cape Town and the wider Western Cape province before the latest storm Wednesday night and those figures were expected to rise.

JP Smith, the Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the city and non-governmental organizations had already provided more than 36,000 meals and distributed 6,000 blankets to affected people in the last two days.

Many people left homeless were in the impoverished informal settlements on the outskirts of Cape Town, where metal and wooden shacks are especially vulnerable to strong wind and flooding.

Schools were closed in Cape Town and other nearby areas, including the renowned wine-growing region of Stellenbosch, where snow lined the streets earlier in the week in a highly unusual occurrence as a result of the extreme cold fronts coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.

Three major rivers in the province had burst their banks, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said.

The provincial disaster management services had ordered evacuations of some people in the agricultural area of Citrusdal and parts of the wine-growing region around Stellenbosch, which is around 30 miles (48 kilometers) inland from Cape Town, because of flooding.

Authorities were considering the controlled release of water from some dams as a “precautionary measure” to prevent them from overflowing and causing more damage, the provincial government said.

Cape Town and other parts of the southwest coast of South Africa are often affected by cold fronts in the winter months in the middle of the year which bring heavy rain and strong winds. But it's unusual for multiple fronts to hit in a short space of time.


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