After the deluge

David Bullard on cleaning up after the flood the weather gods dropped upon his home


Weather forecasts are generally about as believable as the ANC’s promises of job creation and a crackdown on corrupt cadres. I’m sure the meteorologists don’t do it out of malice but while popular online weather forecaster 'YR' promises a deluge, for example, others are less optimistic….and vice versa. The forecasts also change by the hour and the promise of 30mm of much needed rain reduces to a dribble of 5mm or gets pushed out for a couple of days.

However, I did keep a wary eye on YR’s forecasts for early last week and they didn’t disappoint. The forecasts varied for Monday, with an initial prediction of over 90mm of rain revised to around 60mm if memory serves. Then the forecast for Tuesday was for even more rain.

The final score, as measured in various rain gauges for those two days in my neck of the woods was between 180mm and 210mm (we measured 180mm but we emptied the rain gauge when it was already overflowing at 100mm so we probably undercounted).

The grim proof that there had been ‘a helluva lot of precipitation’ came when, at 9.30pm last Tuesday as I was sitting watching the final episode of the latest series of Borgen on Netflix (strongly recommended) in front of a roaring log fire, water suddenly started pouring through the light fittings in the ceiling.

Not even an ominous ‘drip drip drip’ but a torrential downpour which required many buckets and old towels. Furniture was quickly dragged out of the way or covered with plastic sheeting and mopping up operations swung into action immediately.  

I’ve often wondered which of fire or water is the worst household risk and I’ve decided that it’s definitely water. Fire risk has a rather more definite outcome but the water flooding often requires days of drying out and, as I am finding out, insurance companies will wriggle out of claims by saying that inadequate roof maintenance was the cause. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

I have had that flat roof water-proofed three times over the past eight years and all gutters were cleaned ahead of the winter rains, but I have a feeling that I am going to be left high and not so dry after the latest flooding and the argument that it was a freak weather condition will hold no water with the insurance assessor.

Needless to say, the rain continued through Tuesday night depriving me of any sleep, sending me to the comfort of the whisky decanter and forcing me to nervously move through the rest of the house looking for tiny trails of water coming down the walls.

Fortunately, the only part of the house which was very badly affected was the part of the living room under a flat roof. It seems that the guttering couldn’t cope with the sheer volume of water dropped first by a hailstorm and then, a few minutes later, by a deafening cloud burst seemingly aimed at me. Fortunately, we have had drier days since then and the rain last Friday didn’t do too much damage but the ceiling now looks like the stained bedsheet of an adolescent boy.

Checking the news the next day I realised that we had got off relatively lightly. Other homes in the Western Cape had been completely flooded and not just in the informal settlements.

The underground parking area in a nearby upmarket shopping centre was badly flooded with water coming half way up the escalator from the shopping mall to the parking area. Major roads were destroyed and much of the water had no escape route because the storm drains were blocked with rubbish.

The dreadful irony is that this deluge came days after at least five homes burnt down in Somerset West after our freak June wildfires.

Blocked storm drains was a common problem when I lived in Johannesburg. Because the well-designed mine-stone gutters in the road were quite deep and the storm drains fairly large in many of the older northern suburbs it seemed logical to municipal workers post 1994 that rubbish, instead of being swept and collected, should be crammed into storm drains. That naturally lead to flooding which lead to potholes which lead to more job creation.

Looking at the world news I see that freak flooding has taken place recently in Valencia in Spain and last week in Yellowstone National Park in Montana. The Oz floods and the devastating series of floods in Durban recently are apparently clear signs that planet Earth is finally getting even with us, and that Greta Thunberg was right all along. According to the sort of people who join groups like Extinction Rebellion and like to glue their hands to the road or smash shop windows to prevent the threat to the planet we are all doomed anyway.

If you believe that sort of climate change mumbo jumbo, then good luck to you. The harsh reality is that if you build your house on the banks of a river or on a flood plain then make the most of the view while you still can. The same applies to forests which, as we have seen, can be very picturesque but do tend to catch fire in dry weather. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

For example, I’m reliably informed that coastal erosion will turn my house into a sea view property one day; the question is when?

None of this is much comfort to those who live in the Nelson Mandela Bay area though where day zero is fast approaching. Those who believe a malevolent deity dumped far too much water on Durban and Cape Town recently presumably also believe that the same malevolent deity is emptying the dams in that deeply troubled area.

Sometimes blaming Mother Nature just doesn’t ring true though. Particularly when it’s perfectly clear that a corrupt and a terminally incompetent ANC is really to blame.


In the print media in the good old days there used to be some semblance of control over advertisements. For example, if an advertisement was deliberately misleading or even if it made claims that were a trifle exaggerated a complaint would be made to the Advertising Standards body in whatever country the ad had appeared and the ad would be investigated.

If the complaints were upheld the ad would have to be removed, those responsible for the ad possibly fined and there might be a couple of professional reputations sacrificed in the process.

None of that seems to apply now to the internet where the biggest load of piffle appears on respected news services online pages promising all sorts of things. You’ve almost certainly seen them and also wondered how on earth a credible news agency can allow such nonsense to appear below their news stories. Not so long ago I was assured in one of these ‘ads’ that the South African government was about to ban a particularly powerful telescope. I know the SA government loves banning things but I’m not sure telescopes would be top of the list. The message obviously was…buy now before it becomes illegal.

Then there are those ads that feature the words “may surprise you” such as, “the price of dental implants in Cape Town may surprise you” or “the price of Duplexes in Dubai might surprise you”. I’m always up for a surprise but I don’t think dental implants or Dubai complexes are going to pique my interest.

The local medical profession also feature and they seem to be “baffled” that something that looks very much like a gummy bear can relieve arthritic pain. All those years of study to become a doctor and they are felled by a gummy bear?

Then there are the current crop of ads that appear in between the news stories with headlines such as “Western Cape: Unsold Cars Are Almost Being Given Away”.

Always keen on a bargain I obviously clicked onto the pic and was directed to several sites, none of which even remotely mentioned cars at giveaway prices. The ad isn’t just misleading, it’s an outright lie and the fact that it openly admits to being paid content suggests that the host site, in this case News24, has no problem with that.

However, the best attempt at conning people out of their money has to be the recent picture of two miserable looking Capetonians in their fifties who have just spent R30 million on a mansion. The narrative goes that they both lost their jobs at the beginning of COVID and struggled to survive but then found work and wisely invested in crypto currency from whence the R30 million suddenly materialised and paid for the mansion.

Twitter is also full of people who have hit the financial skids but, thanks to a crypto genius called William Church who they found online, are making at least R37 000 a week.

Last week the price of Bitcoin dropped below $20 000 hitting a new low for the year. So it would have been quite impossible for anybody buying Bitcoin in the past year to have made a profit unless they were agiley trading in intraday movements. Not even that would have provided R30million for a Cape Town mansion though, particularly as the initial stake was so low.

Nonsense like this exists because it hooks gullible people. If it didn’t it wouldn’t be paid content. The fact that it is disgracefully dishonest and deliberately misleading ought to worry the host sites that carry such garbage. But it doesn’t seem to.