Rescuers assist residents, business owners as flash floods sweep across Bethlehem

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Twenty-five people have been rescued from various areas in Bethlehem in the eastern Free State as rains continue to lash the town. Flash floods are expected to continue in the area.

Free State Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Sipho Towa has advised residents to avoid low-lying areas and driving on submerged bridges as rain continues to fall. Towa says they are monitoring the situation.

“At present the situation in Bethlehem is still being monitored. A total of 25 people were reached yesterday, some were parked in their vehicles in water, some were at their homes and some at their offices. We continue to monitor the situation and continue to urge the community to be aware of water that is flowing and to not drive on lower bridges; and also to stay on higher places as we expect more rain throughout the day,” instructs Towa.

Businessowners cry out about the inadequate drainage system in town

Meanwhile, business owners in the town have raised concerns about the drainage system in the town. They say it is partly the cause of flooding whenever there is rain. Various shops including the Sechaba Mall in the city centre were flooded on Friday and businesses had to close.

Some business owners are still cleaning mud and water out of their shops following the flash floods experienced in the town.

One business owner who spoke to the SABC says the town’s drains are not maintained well.

“They are not cleaned at all. The water dams up there’s no space where the water goes, and all the water floods in front of all the shops here and it caused a big problem because it goes inside the shop and we have to clean and [there is] just mud everywhere.”

“The problem here is that the sewerage channels or drains are blocked so the rain that falls from the top of the town comes down in the sewerage pipes and it blocks here, and it starts overflowing here,” says another Bethlehem business owner.