Flood warnings across South Africa

06 Jan 2011

Farmers and residents who live along the banks of the Vaal and Orange Rivers have been warned to exercise extreme caution because four of the country’s main dams are already at more than 100% capacity.

The Department of Water Affairs has issued a flood warning for communities residing near the Vaal, Bloemhof, Gariep and Vanderkloof dams. Over the past 24 hours the Vaal Dam has risen to 105,5% capacity because of extensive rains in the catchment area.

The outflow from the dam has increased substantially, pushing up the water level in the Vaal River. The Bloemhof Dam was 101% full and its outflow has increased to about 1 700 cubic metres a second.

The Gariep Dam is 109,8% full and its outflow is about 1 600 cubic metres a second while the Vanderkloof Dam has reached a capacity of 105,8% with an outflow of about 2 000 cubic metres a second.

The South African Weather Service has forecast more rain over the next few days. Officials monitoring water levels at the dams are expected to release more water as dam levels rise says Water Affairs spokesman Linda Page.

The heavy downpours across the country have already damaged roads, uprooted trees, smashed bridges and marooned many farms causing extensive crop damage.

Areas affected by widespread flooding include Moretele, Hammanskraal, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Mamelodi, Nkandla, Nquthu, Winburg, Senekal and many parts of Mpumalanga.

The Mpumulanga provincial co-operative governance spokesman Simphiwe Kunene has issued a warning to all residents in the province to be on full alert as heavy rain and windstorms have been forecast for the region over the next few days.

A special warning has been issued to all residents who live alongside riverbanks or close to the flood lines to move to higher ground along the Orange and Vaal Rivers as well as Olifants and Crocodile Rivers in Mpumalanga.

All local authorities in Mpumalanga have been placed on standby so they can respond to possible floods in the province.

In the Tshwane region, almost 8 500 shacks in Mamelodi have been flooded and residents living in these informal areas have been evacuated to nearby churches and community halls.

In Hammanskraal, hundreds of families have been displaced while in KwaZulu-Natal more than 800 homes across the province have already been affected by flooding. In Ladysmith three people died as a result of floods in the town.

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