root - August 29, 2023

Houses also damaged in Hanover Park

Peter Luhanga 

Ferocious weather and gale-force winds on Friday 25 August tore the roofs off six homes, leaving a dozen people vulnerable and homeless in Wolwerivier, a City of Cape Town incremental development area near Morning Star to the north of the city. 

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, confirmed the extent of the havoc wreaked by the violent weather. 

Smith said six structures in Wolwerivier felt the force of the storm’s fury, leaving one home entirely destroyed. 

The tempest’s wrath extended beyond Wolwerivier, affecting other neighbourhoods. In Hanover Park, the storm inflicted damage upon 20 formal houses and ten backyard dwellings, amplifying the scale of the catastrophe. Mamre also fell victim to the weather’s aggression, according to Smith’s account.  

Despite the destruction, there were no reported injuries or fatalities. 

Smith stated the damages sustained by these properties was mostly due to airborne debris from adjacent structures.

“Damages to these properties were mostly the result of debris from the roofs blown off from surrounding properties.  No injuries or deaths were reported,” he said.

In Wolwerivier on Saturday afternoon City of Cape Town contractors were seen rebuilding the affected homes. A City official who cannot be named as he didn’t have permission to speak to the press, said the Wolwerivier homes were insured.

Wolwerivier resident Jeffrey May said he was in bed on Friday when storm struck at about 9am, ripping off half the roof of his self-contained one-room home.

May said he saw his roof twisting in the sky before falling onto neighbouring homes, damaging them in the process.

He said the ferocious wind damaged his wardrobe but all other household belongings were not damaged.

“We can’t compete with nature. We didn’t expect it,” he said.

Hector Africa’s home was completely razed to the ground. When we got there the city contractor had completed rebuilding it but it still had broken window panes.

Africa said she was watching television at her friend’s home when the wind struck and a neighbour came over to tell her to go look at her house. 

“It was completely flattened. What if it would have happened while I was sleeping?” But she said people took advantage and stole her food, cooking stove, and clothes. 

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has analysed the weather that affected Hanover Park and submitted a report to the City.

The report stated that after evaluating the meteorological conditions and the damage that was caused, it was determined that the cause was it was an EF-0 landspout. 

“Like a tornado, a landspout also rotates, is usually fast-moving and can be damaging. However, landspouts are much weaker and smaller in scale and form from the ground up, rather than from a cloud to the ground,” stated the SAWS. 

 The EF-rating refers to the strength (estimated wind speed) of the wind phenomenon by considering the damage severity to structures and trees.

On Monday, SAWS senior forecaster Kate Turner said a separate investigation was conducted on the heavy wind that affected Wolwerivier saying it fell in the category of an EF- 1 landspout.

Asked why wasn’t this picked up by the SAWS and people warned ahead of time, she said it was “almost impossible to forecast these things even first world countries can’t forecast these things”.

Turner said the kind of weather experienced on Friday did not happen often, but was not unheard of. 

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