From the news desk

Cape Town geared for winter flooding

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As winter sets in, the city and paramedic services have suggested tips to help people stay warm and dry.

Every year the city completes a winter readiness plan.

The city has prioritised 34 high-risk areas which include informal settlements in Philippi, Gugulethu and the Strand.

Safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said during the period January 2015 to February 2016 a total of 118 people died in shack fires and 19 999 people lost their homes. Floods damaged 19 898 structures, affecting 71 155 people.

Smith urged people to report flooding, blocked drains and service disruptions to the city for speedy attention.

The city has teams cleaning storm water drains to prevent floods.

The Disaster Risk Management Centre has also intensified its public education and preparedness programme, particularly in informal settlements located in the Cape Flats area.

They have also employed 18 Expanded Public Works Programme workers who have been trained to educate people on the dangers of floods.

Smith said the city would prioritise informal settlements and more maintenance efforts would be focused on them.

According to the city’s winter plan, “special efforts will be focused on the formal and open drainage systems either surrounding or within the settlements, with an increase in inspections and cleaning in the run-up to the winter rainfall season”.

“Efficient and effective maintenance of the storm-water network is crucial to limit the impact of potential flooding on communities.”

The 2015/2016 budget for proactive maintenance, mainly the cleaning of storm water facilities, totals approximately R93 million.

Mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said the budget for maintenance and cleaning projects in informal settlements was R11.5 million for the current financial year, with expenditure standing at R8.4 million.

A total of 91 percent of the Transport for Cape Town’s budget was spent between April and May.

ER24 spokeswoman Chitra Bodasing said: “Fires at informal settlements increase over the colder months. Gas heaters and open flames in small rooms are common causes of fires in informal settlements.

“It is not uncommon for emergency personnel to be called out to residential fires especially during winter.

“You can avoid injury as well as loss of property by ensuring proper safety measures are in place,” she added.

Safety tips

General fire safety:

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