Ending a long and devastating drought, the severe storm that hit the Cape Peninsula Tuesday night, 6 June, into Wednesday morning, 7 June, uprooted trees, blew off rooves, brought down electricity pylons, causing fire and damage to large sections of Cape Town and surrounding areas.
Storm Shuts Schools
All schools throughout Cape Town were closed on Wednesday, 7 June because of the storm.
Coastal Roads Closed
Numerous coastal roads have been closed as waves have washed over major roads on the Sea Point Boulevard and at Strand. Chapmans Peak Drive has also been closed due to the storm.
Electricity cables have been reported down in Athlone, Goodwood, Boston, Parow, Weltevreden Valley and Pelican Park. Areas of Mitchells Plain and Woodstock have also reportedly lost electricity.
Gale Force Winds and High Waves
The city’s Disaster Risk Management Centre has warned that waves could reach in excess of 12 metres along the coastal areas. Winds have been measured at over 77km/hour and are expected to reach 90km/h at times. At least 8 people have been reported to have been killed and thousands displaced in what is being described as the worst storm in over 3 decades.
Wild Fires in the Garden Route
In the Eastern Cape, wild fires spread by extremely strong winds have forced thousands to be evacuated from their homes in Knysna. Other fires have been reported in Mossel Bay. Knysna Fire Chief, Clinton Manual, has described the fires as “out of control” and “there is a slim chance of stopping them.” The N2 National Road has been closed.
The Mayor of Knysna has commented: “For 45 years I have lived in this town and have never witnessed such devastation.” Fire services have also reported battling blazes in the Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay. Out of control fires have also been reported by Eastern Cape premier, Arthur Trollip, in Nelson Mandela Bay. Fires have also been reported in Touws Rivier. George Fire Brigade reports dealing with 26 fires. Several have expressed suspicion that they are dealing with deliberate co-ordinated arson attacks.
The Storm of 1984
I remember the storm of 1984. At the time, I was studying at Baptist Theological College and working midnight shifts at the Fire Brigade. Huge trees came crashing down, blocking major roads such as Forest Drive and Newlands Avenue. Firemen were busy with chainsaws and Jaws of Life to rescue people trapped in vehicles, crushed by trees or blocked by trees both in front and behind then on the roads. Calls were received from people trapped in their homes by trees crashing in and blocking their doorways.
The Storm of 1994
There was also another severe storm which hit Cape Town in May 1994. That led to the first major penguin rescue operation as 10,000 African Penguins oiled from the Apollo Sea which sank near Robben Island and Dassen Island. At the time it was noteworthy that the new president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, had abolished prayer in Parliament. For over 130 years, parliament in Cape Town had always opened in prayer in the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Marking the beginning of African National Congress (ANC) rule, it was deemed important to make parliament secular, so not even a moment of silence to acknowledge a Higher Power, was allowed.
Inter-faith Idolatry Aggravates Drought
On 25 May, Cape Town mayor, Patricia De Lille, organised an inter-faith prayer ceremony for rain on the slopes of Table Mountain. Buddhist, Baha’i, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Animist religious leaders participated in this ceremony, supposedly for rain. “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death” Proverbs 16:25
Idolatry is the Most Condemned Sin in Scripture
God is not impressed with all kinds of religious activities and ceremonies. In fact throughout the Bible, commandments and warnings against idolatry are the most repeated of all. There are more denunciations of idolatry than of any other sin in the Bible. “They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God…” Deuteronomy 32:16-17
Jesus Christ is “the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father” except through Him (John 14:6). Christians cannot worship before the adulterous altar of pluralism, idolatry and the inter-faith movement.
The Biblical Response to Natural Disasters
The Scripture makes it clear that the only correct response to drought and natural disasters is sincere, wholehearted Repentance before the Lord. “When I shut up Heaven and there is no rain… If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”2 Chronicles 7:13-14
The Hand of God
This storm, ending a long drought, is both exciting and frightening at the same time. We are seeing the hand of God at work and it is literally awesome. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10
What more does God have to do to get our attention?
When are we going to get serious in humbling ourselves, seeking His face, praying and turning from our wicked ways?
Dr. Peter Hammond