Authorities asked to declare Oudtshoorn a disaster area

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The Oudtshoorn Municipality in the Little Karoo region of the Western Cape has asked authorities to declare it a disaster area following last week’s flooding.

The municipality says assessments and recovery operations are continuing following flood damage to the town and surrounding areas.

The heavy downpours led to the flooding of roads and bridges as well as rockfalls. Many residents were also cut off by raging rivers which are now starting to recede.

Some major roads such as the Meiringspoort Pass which leads to Beaufort West remains closed. The pass sustained extensive damage. Repair work is still under way. Repairs and assessments have also been done on low-lying bridges in and around the town.

“At this stage all the low water bridges in town are closed due to flooding and there’s some assessments the municipality has to do to see what the damage is on the low water bridges. The Swatberg Mountain Pass is open. The road to the Cango Caves, there’s still some Rockfalls from the Koppies. The outer bridges outside of Oudtshoorn, some are still closed due to water running over the low water bridges. Then Meiringspoort remains closed until further notice because the construction workers are still busy working in Meiringspoort,” says Morne Thysse, acting disaster management head at Oudtshoorn Municipality.

The rains also cut off over 100 families living close to rivers. Aid was delivered to them via helicopter and boats, with the water levels dropping, some residents are now able to leave their homes.

“At this point in time most of the water levels have subsided to a point where people can get out. Maybe not with a normal vehicle but with 4x4s and tractors. Most of the people can get out as we speak. We have provided humanitarian assistance to everyone that we were aware of that was in need of humanitarian assistance. And we have also received a request for a local disaster declaration from the Oudtshoorn Municipality. We are busy processing that to provide that to the national and provincial centre to assist them and hopefully get some money for repairs and reconstruction work that is required,” says Gerhard Otto, Garden Route District Municipality disaster head.

Authorities say the Meiringspoort Pass could be reopened by the weekend.

Video: Western Cape Floods – Relief for affected families