After the raging storm of Saturday morning, July 14 a group of about 15 cars narrowly escaped what could have been a disastrous accident when two enormous blue gum trees toppled over the Welbedacht Road near the entrance to Timber Village.
Inset: The Karatara River burst it’s banks over the weekend (July 13 - 15). This photograph was taken on Sunday after most of the rain had subsided. Note the large tree stumps that could only have been moved by a large volume of water. (Photo: Knysna-Plett Herald)
"Had that group passed by here half an hour earlier the trees may well have hit one of their cars," says a concerned Jock McConnachie of Timber Village (which was recently featured on Top Billing).
This group, apparently on their way to a lunch date at Eastford Bridge, together with another group of visitors to Timber Village, were stuck on either sides of the fallen trees.
"I have to say the municipality was here within 15 minutes of us contacting them and together we managed to clear the road within half an hour," explained McConnachie.
Lennox Tyhulu and Marvin Claasen of the Fire Department, who responded to several calls from the Welbedacht area, confirmed that, including the two blue gums at Timber Village, they had cleared the road of 36 trees altogether.
Acting municipal manager, Charl Botha, said they attended to 22 reports of flooding, several damaged roofs and issued 6 130 sand bags in and around Knysna. In order to attend to the various call-outs and emergencies, 20 law enforcement and 15 traffic officers as well as 13 members of the Fire Department were dispatched.
The Fire Department also logs all calls and dispatches the Electrical Department to deal situations such as power outages caused by extreme weather conditions. Several power outages occurred in various areas in Knysna, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay.
The much warned about cold front and storm hit Knysna on Friday, July 13 and picked up pace throughout the night, culminating in a thunderstorm on Saturday morning, which reverberated through homes, leaving window panes rattling, dogs howling and the faint-hearted diving for cover. Damage was visible all over the greater Knysna and several roads had to be closed. This included George Rex Drive as well as the Waterfront sportsgrounds. The N2 between Sedgefield and Wilderness was also close for a time and the flooding Karatara River made thoroughfare impossible.
On Saturday the Knysna NSRI assisted to evacuate four people cut off by rising waters at Red Bridge on the Knysna River and a further four people were rescued at Cranmere following similar incidents of low lying areas cut off by rising waters. No injuries were recorded in these incidents.
Scores of Vodacom users were left without signal following the storm. Richard Boorman, Vodacom's executive head: Media Relations explained that while Vodacom does its best to provide a quality service, "we are sometimes effected by situations outside of our control".
According to Boorman, the Vodam transmission equipment, which connects the base stations to the core network in the area, was struck by lightning causing a network outage during the storm. "Repairs to the sites were then delayed as the bad weather meant that our maintenance teams could not safely gain immediate access to the affected sites." The Vodacom signal was restored on Sunday afternoon.
Rainfall figures reported from the Cape Town Weather Office for Friday and Saturday in Knysna town was 73.8mm and 32.4mm respectively, 62mm and 81.8mm at Diepwalle, 61.4mm and 111.8mm at Kleingrysbos and 52.2mm and 34mm for Plettenberg Bay town. A resident of Sedgehill in Sedgefield measured a total of 120mm of rain for the entire weekend.
For any emergencies during extreme weather, Knysna Municipality may be contacted on 044 302 6300 or 044 3028911.
By Anoeschk Von Meck