Imagine waking up in the early hours of the morning to close a gap in your ceiling, stop the water rushing through your lounge or dig a trench to divert a deluge.
Elizabeth Braaf, of Hangberg, doesn’t have to use her imagination. This is reality for her each time it rains.
“It’s really tough, especially when you don’t have much help,” says the unemployed grandmother. We have been through so much, and we are still going through things. We are locked down, but all we want is to be able to live comfortably and not worry whether our house will flood again.”
Along with her husband, Leon, her four grandchildren, her foster son and 19-year-old daughter, Ms Braaf stays in a bungalow behind Block Q in Salamander Road. She’s been there for 20 years, and they have been 20 years of struggle, she says.
The last rains flooded the home, and a stream of mud washed through the living room, soiling their clothes and blankets.
“We have nothing left,” she says. “All our things are wet and damaged, and just when we think we are sorting ourselves out, something else goes wrong or the rain comes again.”
Ms Braaf worries about her husband who has a heart condition. He can’t do what he once could to fix up the house, she says, so it’s now falling apart.
“We must sleep in a wet place with the water running through my place, as we have no other choice. It’s better than sleeping on the streets. My husband makes a trench in our main bedroom so that the water can run out and not through the house. For me, as a mother, a wife, a grandmother, it’s not nice to experience this. It’s unhealthy to stay like this, especially for my grandchildren and my husband, because they are getting sick from this wet place.”
A close friend, Patience Gertse, contacted Sentinel News to share the family’s plight and urge the public to help them.
Ms Gertse, who helps to deliver food parcels to the needy, says the recent heavy rains damaged several homes in the area.
“Elizabeth has been struggling with her place for some time now and the heavy rain just made it worse,” she says.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the City provided 110 plastic sails after the recent storms in Hangberg to help with waterproofing and insulation.
“Where necessary, we provided sandbags, clear storm drains and gullies, and in drastic situations, we will provide starter flood kits.”