The worst storms in 40 years have caused severe flooding in Cape Town, causing President Thabo Mbeki to declare the area a disaster zone. Hardest hit were the shanty towns in the flatlands on the outskirts of the city, particularly settlements near the airport. Some 15,000 people have been driven from their homes. Other residential areas and the city’s commercial district fared better, but travel to Cape Town should be deferred until the emergency has passed.