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From rain harvesting to charity – how to prepare for this monster storm

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If you live in Cape Town and haven’t heard about the monster storm that’s about to hit, we admire your ability to shut the world out. Seriously.

While it does seem somewhat surreal, what with blue skies overhead and hardly a breeze stirring the air, Facebook and Twitter have been buzzing in anticipation, news channels delivering stern warnings and watercooler conversations centring solely around the impending

There is talk of gale-force winds reaching speeds of up to 90km/h, wave heights of between 6 and 12 metres from Alexander Bay to Cape Agulhas, snowfall in high-lying regions and – one thing our drought-stricken region really needs – more than 50mm of rain within 24 hours.

As beneficial as it would be for dam levels around the province, it also holds the risk of devastating flooding. The City announced  that their Disaster Risk Management Centre is on high alert and that they have also advised residents to take the following steps to lower their risk of flooding:

  • Make sure that drainage pipes on your property are not blocked
  • Make sure that the stormwater gutters around your property are free from debris
  • Check for dead or burnt trees that have the potential of falling onto your property and causing damage
  • Place sandbags where necessary to protect critical areas
  • Check the terms of your insurance policy with regard to flood and mud damage
  • In informal settlements, raise the floor level of your home to be higher than the land outside
  • Listen to weather warnings that are issued by the South African Weather Service

‘We further appeal to the public to report any emergency incidents to our Public Emergency Communication Centre so that we can respond as speedily as possible and mitigate the fallout. Residents should dial 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline. I advise the public to ensure that they have this number saved on their contact list for easy access in case of an emergency,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

Helping the vulnerable

While many of us may feel rather excited about the prospect of holing ourselves up in the comfort of our homes while the storm rages outside, it’s important to keep those in mind whose homes may not offer the same level of shelter and, of course, also those who have no homes to speak of.

More than just keeping them in mind, however, you may want to help them out in a more tangible manner.

The Haven Night Shelter has a donation drive called ‘Buy a Bed’ where you can sponsor up to 10 people for a five-night stay in one of the shelters. Another great initiative is the Twitter Blanket Drive (#TBD2017), which has collected more than 4000 blankets for homeless South Africans every year since 2010.

If you have pets, be sure to keep them safe inside throughout the storm and consider donating to the SPCA or TEARS who will no doubt be dealing with scared animals who may stray from home over the next few days.

Protecting yourself

If all the reports are true, the storm that’s about to hit is like nothing we’ve experienced in recent memory and, therefore, you should be extra cautious! Like batten down the hatches cautious.

Apart from following the City’s guidelines to avoid flooding, people have also been advised to secure any outdoor furniture/belongings against gale force winds. While driving during the stormy weather should be avoided at all costs, if you do happen to find yourself on the road mid-downpour, rather pull over in a safe place than trying to navigate through the deluge. Also, avoid driving into any water covering the road as it may be much deeper than you think and could send your car into an aquaplane.

The storm could affect water and electricity supplies, so stock up on a 5-litre bottle of water or two and also ensure that you have a working torch at home. It’s also important to ensure that you have any chronic medication you or a family member may need at the ready, as well as other basic medical supplies.

Here are a few important emergency numbers to have close at hand:

  • City of Cape Town: 107 (from your landline) or 021 480 7700
  • Police Flying Squad: 10111
  • Ambulance: 10177
  • City of Cape Town General Emergency: 107
  • Cellphone Emergency: 112 (from MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom)
  • Red Cross Children’s Hospital Poison Line & the Tygerberg Hospital Poison Information Centre: 0861 555 777

Schools to close  

As an indication of just how severe this storm is expected to be, the Western Cape Government announced that all schools will be closed tomorrow. “The storm may damage some schools, which could place learners and staff at risk, as well as those who commute to school, especially in rural areas,” education department head Brian Schreuder said in a statement.

Office workers who are able to are also advised to ask their bosses whether they could work from home for the day instead.

Rain harvesting

Despite all the doom and gloom, the storm does also offer the perfect opportunity to stock up on some much-needed rainwater, which can be used for gardening purposes during drier periods. If you haven’t installed a water tank in your garden yet, you may want to consider investing in one in time for the next big storm. Since we’re living in a water scarce region of the world, having one of these is almost a necessity these days. Available in a range of sizes, you’ll be sure to find one to meet your needs.

In the meantime, why not place a few buckets and other storage containers outside? Every little bit helps! Be sure to secure them in some way, so that they don’t get swept away by the gale force winds.

If you have a garden, it’s probably in dire need of some TLC. This storm offers the perfect opportunity for you to strew a bit of fertiliser all around, to be soaked into the hungry soil by the rain!

Keep up with the storm

Stay up to date with storm information by  checking in with the South African Weather Service website, seeing a super cool visual representation on MeteoEarth and following these Twitter accounts:

City of Cape Town

City of Cape Town Alerts

NSRI

Snow Report

SA Weather Services

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