Remembering the 1968 flood

NOBODY could imagine on going to bed on Saturday night, August 31, 1968, what they would wake up to the next morning.

So when the citizens of Port Elizabeth awoke to light rain, just after 07:00, they thought it was the perfect day to roll over and have a good Sunday morning snooze.

The fact that most of the population remained indoors, was one of the main reasons for the relatively low number of fatalities, for a disaster of this proportion.

At just before 08:00, the heavens opened, like a storm of biblical proportions. In just over four hours, between 07:40 and 12:00, a total of 352mm of rain was measured at the Port Elizabeth Airport. Although this is the officially documented figure, the autographic rain gauge at the reservoir in Brunswick Road (Adcockvale) recorded 470mm between 08:00 and 12:00.

This equated to a sustained rainfall intensity of 20 to 30mm per 15 minute period, over this four-hour period. This turned roads and streets into raging rivers that caused wave upon wave of destruction. City fathers had no way of designing a storm water system that could even vaguely cope with this amount of water.

Continued on page 4