From Luca Lategan, 17 January on sar-L:
'I am stuck in Kakamas! Initially the (possible) floods created a lot of excitement early last week when the waters started to rise. Each day more and more (farm) roads, irrigation channels and vineyards became more and more flooded.
Farmers tried desperately to throw banks to protect the vines, lucerne- and cottonfields other teams tried walls for the roads. Unfortunately by Friday night the choice was made to abandon the roadwalls to save the vineyards, it broke and now both the vineyards and roads are under water.
'The bridge that connects Kakamas to Upington via tar road stands as does the rail-bridge, but unfortunately the dip between a popular farm stall (pink padstal) and the bridge is now a side branch of the mighty Orange River'
'There was a rubberduck service across the 500 or so metres of flooded road over the weekend (from the diving unit of the SAPS), but unfortunately one of the boats was driven into the adjacent vineyards and its hakiesdraad (barbed wire?). Oops, one less boat. This morning there was an emergency somewhere else on the river and the remaining boat had to be sent there.
'Literary hundreds of people were stranded on the other side of the river. Luckily the water has dropped by now and there is a tractor service across (very high trailer).
'I arrived last Tuesday and guess what - the last export grape train left Kakamas until November on Monday!!! From just after the entrance to the station to just before the rail bridge over the river, everything is under water, chest high!
'I don't know how the rest of the branch looks, but my biggest prayer is that there is no lasting damage as that will surely lead to certain, permanent closure of the line.'
[ The 88km branch along the north bank of the Orange River from Upington to Kakamas (which is on the south of the river) was opened in 1926 on 610mm gauge. It was converted to 1,067mm in 1949. The bridge at Kakamas is 394m long - editor
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