I’ve always had a fondness for the weather. I would have become a meteorologist, but I couldn’t pronounce the word properly, so the admissions officer at the university stuck me in with the other first-year students who tended to mutter a lot: the engineers. By happy chance, my present field of specialisation allows me to dabble in climate statistics to the extent that when I start talking shop, I reduce grown men to tears.
The reason I mention this is because the recent flooding in the southern and eastern cape has served as a sharp reminder that we haven’t had a serious storm in Cape Town for nearly forty years. And when I say “serious”, I’m not talking about the events that turn the squatter camps into giant mud puddles with monotonous regularity. I’m talking LOTS* of water.
I have the inside track on this, because a couple of years ago I was part of a study team that examined potential flooding in and around the Cape Metropolitan Area. Sadly, the report that came out of the study is busy gathering dust somewhere in the city archives and suffering from a severe Cassandra complex. I have little doubt that after the damage has been done, it will be dug out and used as political stick to beat people with, but that is simply the way things are done around here.
Let me put it this way, if you live or work anywhere near one of the city’s waterways, now would probably be a good time to invest in a pair of Wellington boots – and just to be safe, a snorkel.
* the technical hydrological term is ‘a fuckload’