by | Jan 7, 2011 | Free State | 5 comments

South Africa has been pounded by heavy rains for the last several weeks. Several people have been killed and settlements and farms across the country have flooded.

The Vaal River is the main source of water for Joburg and the surrounding Gauteng Province, and the floodgates have literally been opened at the Vaal Dam. (Interesting fact: Johannesburg is the only major city in the world that is not located on a major body of water.)

Joe went to take photos at the dam, which is about an hour south of Joburg. I went along to check it out.

According to the South African Press Association, the Vaal Dam is “110% full and still rising.” I’m not sure what this means  — the dam still appears to be functioning so I don’t know how it can be more than 100% full — but I can tell you that there is a hell of a lot of water there.

Visiting the dam was interesting not only for the water, but for the people-watching. There were hundreds of people ogling the river from the bridge, as well as an entire community of vendors selling ice cream, boerewors rolls (kind of like hot dogs), biltong, mielies (corn), and soft drinks. A friend of mine described it as a “flood fair.”

People marvel at the floodwaters. There were also quite a few crazy people fishing dangerously close to the banks of the raging river. Apparently the fish get stunned in waters like this and are very easy to catch.

Interesting way to spend a Friday afternoon.


  1. lisa@notesfromafrica

    It’s amazing how people made an outing of going to see the dam overflow! 🙂 Is it that unusual for the Vaal Dam to overflow?

    “The Vaal Dam is 110% full and rising” – LOL It sounds funny, but maybe they mean that 10% of the capacity of the dam is currently running through/over the flood gates? Just a guess.

    How is the flood situation in Melville?

  2. 2summers

    Hey, I just saw you Freshly Pressed! Congrats!

    The Vaal Dam also overflowed last year — that was the first time it had happened since 1996 (as far as Joe can remember). The biltong salesman said it’s tradition for people to come see the dam when it overflows and the vendors always come too.

    Melville hasn’t had any flooding but you may have seen stories about the flooding in Soweto — that’s where the flooding is worst in Joburg.

    • lisa@notesfromafrica

      Thank you! It’s a bit overwhelming, but very exciting.

      It’s always sad to me that the people with the least resources, are usually the ones worst affected by natural disasters.

  3. Francis

    Interesting subject since we never hear about that part of the world where I live or if so very little. We hear only about the Australian flood all day long.
    Thank You for the news and the pictures. I love them all.

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much Francis! I’m glad you like the blog and that it’s providing you with information that you wouldn’t otherwise get. I’ve only had time to glance at your blog but it looks very interesting. I’m going to check it out in more depth.


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