Ultimately we hope that the current rains will help to break this drought and bring relief to our agricultural sector and ordinary water consumers. In the mean while we should all continue to use water with absolute caution and with a long term view.
However the rain has not come without costs. We have been engaged in meetings all day to assess the extent of flood damage across the Province. Again it is the most vulnerable who seem to have been most negatively affected.
The informal settlements in Cape Town and the Overberg have borne the brunt of the floods, but it appears that the most damage occurred in the Cape Aghulas Municipality where 800 houses and 3000 people found themselves under up to 1.5 metres of water this morning. 100 families are still being evacuated.
But across the Province we have deployed our staff and people are being housed in community halls in areas such as Elim, Bergsig, Genadendal and Waenhuiskrans.
The difficulty in getting a complete assessment has been the inaccessibility of some areas where roads have been damaged or submerged and helicopters could not reach because of the inclement weather. However we are working with Local Authorities to conduct these assessments and to get basic supplies such as blankets, clothes and food to affected communities.
Tomorrow morning, weather permitting, I will lead a delegation from Provincial Government on a helicopter aerial assessment of damage and to meet with our counterparts in Local Government. This will help us to determine further actions needed.
I have received a request from Mayor Dr Willem Schonken of the Cape Agulhas Municipality to declare a Disaster Area. I spoke to the Mayor, indicating that such a declaration must be based on a thorough assessment of all damages. This can only be done once the water has receeded. If I am satisfied that we are unable to cope with the damage ourselves, I will make the necessary request to the President. At this point it is therefore too early to apply for a Disaster Declaration.
This will however not stop us from working flat out to bring relief to affected families and to mitigate the worst effects of the flood.