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Waves crash against the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, on September 17 2023. Picture: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP via Getty Images
Waves crash against the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, on September 17 2023. Picture: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP via Getty Images

You would think that Armageddon was upon us the way citizens of the Lucky Country responded to the storm surges and spring tides that clobbered the coast over the weekend.

News reports, picking up on a tsunami of social media comments and TikTok videos, showed the sea surging across roads, picking up cars and demolishing a couple of admittedly badly placed waterfront buildings along the way. 

Prayers were offered to the Almighty. Climate change is real, some cried. One user said “the sea is taking back what belongs to it”, raising the question of whether cars actually do belong to the sea. 

Still, the point is taken: nothing like a few scenes of nature in a temper to get people wondering if it wants a bit of revenge for the relentless abuse it suffers from our species.

The real story makes for dull drama. The surge was caused by a combination of a spring tide, a cold front and gale-force winds. It has happened before and it will happen again. 

Even as staff at the famous Brass Bell restaurant in Kalk Bay were busy mopping up on Monday, the manager pointed out that the people were up to their knees in seawater after a similar storm 10 years ago. “This time it was up to our ankles,” she said.

If there is any warning worth gleaning, it is the AI-generated news report of the event, a lengthy “news” report, with videos scraped from TikTok and X, that says the tides “devoured beaches”, warns people not to turn their backs on the sea and claims that waves broke over the vantage points at Clifton and Chapman’s Peak. 

A wave blasting over Chappies would be spectacular, a wave to end all waves. Next time, maybe.

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