Mxolisi Mngadi and Nation Nyoka, News24
Cape Town - As Capetonians brace for some respite from the storm on Thursday, the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre continues to manage a range of crisis around the province, the provincial government said on Wednesday.
By 17:00, eight people had been reported dead in what has been described as the worst storm to hit the city in several decades.
Four fatalities were reported in Kraaifontein due to a fire caused by lightning, one fatality was confirmed in Lavender Hill due to a building collapse and three people died in fire-related circumstances in Rheenendal, outside Knysna in the Eden district.
In greater Cape Town, more than 2 000 people were displaced after 20 hours of heavy winds of up to 90km/h and rainfall figures ranging between 20mm-50mm in the Peninsula, said Anton Bredell, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, in a statement.
More than 2 000 residents of Imizamo Yethu on the South Peninsula, required alternative emergency accommodation, as well as the residents of 200 homes in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.
More than 80 people from an informal settlement in Villiersdorp were evacuated due to rising water levels.
In Grabouw informal settlements, roofs were blown and road closures were reported in the area. Six informal dwellings were affected in Botriver and six families were displaced and assisted by authorities.
More than 100 adults and children were evacuated from homes in Franschhoek, while emergency services were also assessing the situation in Touw's River.
Meanwhile several areas on the Garden Route had to be evacuated as 26 fires, fanned by the strong winds due to the storm, blazed between George and Plettenberg Bay. The N2 in the area has been closed to traffic, said Bredell.
At 17:00, the suburbs of Belvedere, Brenton-on-Sea and the Western Knysna head had been evacuated.
"Urgent steps were being taken to control the spread of the fire towards Plettenberg Bay," he said.
Ninety trees were uprooted, 72 roofs blew off and several shopping centres and buildings sustained damage - including Cavendish Square, Somerset Mall and the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
In the West Coast area, about 13 roofs were blown off and 45 informal dwellings collapsed.
Cape Town International Airport confirmed that two flights had been diverted due to the major storm that began on Tuesday night.
Heavy winds also blew cars around and damaged properties in the province.
Snow is expected on mountains later on Wednesday evening, which will result in extremely cold temperatures.
"We remain concerned about the extreme cold weather moving into the province as night falls and urge the public to remain indoors and dress warmly tonight. In addition, limit travelling across the province and contact the authorities as soon as possible on the emergency number 112," Bredell said.
Bredell warned residents and businesses along the coastal areas to stay clear of the beach "as the storm impact continues tomorrow".
Bredell confirmed that the provincial education department had stressed that schools would be re-opened on Thursday.
"The education department is already assessing the damage and drawing up plans to address the challenges anticipated in this regard," he said.
The N2 remains closed at several places between George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
The Huguenot Tunnel remains closed to heavy vehicles. Heavy vehicles were rerouted through the Du Toit's Kloof pass.
Chapman's Peak has been closed due to mudslide risks and the roads were currently being monitored in terms of clean-up operations due to debris caused by strong winds.
The Electricity Services Department said in a statement that it had already repaired 90% of the reported electricity outages.
It has prioritised outages affecting large groups of people over those affecting single customers, the department said.
Additionally, President Jacob Zuma was unable to address the opening ceremony of the 69th World News Media Congress in Durban on Wednesday because his plane was grounded in Cape Town due to the extreme weather conditions.