Category: Disaster Management

Urgent Notification: Visitors travelling to the Garden Route and Klein Karoo region


Due to the recent wildfires in and around the Garden Route region, it is recommended that all visitors that are planning to travel to region delay their trip to the next week.  Severe weather conditions have been predicted for Mossel Bay, George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay today and tomorrow.

Smoke due to wildfires affects the visibility and air quality which adversely affect the tourism industry. Not all the fires in the Garden Route have been contained.

Please note the following:

  • Outeniqua pass has been reopened;
  • Montagu Pass remains closed until further notice; and
  • Robinson Pass has reopened following a felled tree near Ruiterbos.

Outeniqua pass currently have teams clearing debris from wildfires and wind. Motorists are advised to proceed with caution and be aware of possible falling of rocks and trees.

We would like to assure all tourists that are planning to travel to the Garden Route and Klein Karoo that once safety is guaranteed that updated communication will be shared.

Please follow all relating news feeds on our social media pages:

For any assistance with the above matter, please contact:

Garden Route District Emergency Call centre at tel: 044 805 5071


Garden Route and Klein Karoo Tourism office  at tel: 044 803 1427

Severe Weather Alerts issued by the Cape Town Weather Office

Hazard: Damaging Winds

Alert Level: Warning

Valid from (SAST): 29/10/18, 01h00 – Valid to (SAST): 30/10/18, 11h00

WARNING: Gale force W/SW winds of 65-75km/h is expected along the coast between Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay tonight (Monday), into tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

ADVISORY: Strong interior winds (50-65km/h) are expected over the Matzikama Municipality, Breede River Valley, Central and Little Karoo today (Monday), into early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Description: Strong damaging winds
Strong damaging winds often occur along coastal regions, but also often occur during thunderstorm activity. These winds are sudden and can cause much damage.

Precautions:  Strong damaging winds
Stay indoors where possible away from the windows that open towards the severe winds. Be aware of the following: – sudden cross winds if traveling especially between buildings, fallen trees or power lines and flying debris.
Small boats must stay away from the open sea and seek the shelter of a harbour, river estuary or protected bay.
Parked aircraft should be pointed into the direction of the wind and secured.  Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from the Disaster Management Officers.

Description: Storm surges / High Seas

Generally heavy seas or damaging waves are a result of strong winds blowing over a large area called a fetch combined with low pressure systems. Long period swells are often very dangerous to tankers as they may literally snap them in half. Dangerous waves or surges may also be caused by storm surges and tsunami’s resulting in widespread coastal damage and loss of life.

In oceanography, a sea state is the general condition of the free surface on a large body of water—with respect to wind waves and swell—at a certain location and moment. A sea state is characterized by statistics, including the wave height, period, and power spectrum. The sea state varies with time, as the wind conditions or swell conditions change.

Precautions: Storm surges / High Seas

Ships should “idle” into the swell and wind so that the bow of the ship always faces the oncoming swell. If in a small sailing vessel reduce the sail area and steer into the oncoming swell. If along the shore-line stay well back from the highest high water mark as Secure all hatches, doors, windows and ports. Secure all loose items in the interior.

Pump the bilge’s dry and keep pumping them dry at regular intervals. Stow away all loose gear and lash down any large items that cannot be stowed. Break out your life preservers and inform your crew that everyone will be putting them on well in advance of their necessity.

Break out emergency gear like flares and first aid kit, sea anchor, safety harnesses, etc.  Check your position and update your course as plotted on your chart. Prepare alternative routes to more protected areas. If you think you will be in for relatively long haul prepare some hot soup, coffee or stew freak waves may run up beyond the normal high water mark.

If the sea recedes exposing rock and sea bed normally not exposed immediately seek higher ground at least 50m above your current position. Do not try swimming or fishing or other marine recreation during these events. Only extremely experienced surfers will temp their fate under these conditions.

Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from Disaster Management Officers.

Fly-by in Memory of WOF Firefighting Pilot – Nico Heyns

The family of late firebombing pilot Nico Heyns have announced that a fly-by will hosted in Sunday, 28 November, to celebrate his life.

At approximately 16:00 aircraft and helicopters will fly over his farm in Gouna, and proceed South and fly through the Knysna Heads and over town.

Members of the community are also welcome to place flowers outside the Fire Station in Knysna Town in Sunday in memory of Heyns, and those wishing to attend the celebration of Heyn’s life can attend the ceremony at the farm as from 14:30 also on Sunday.

Issued by:  Knysna-Plett Herald

Prestigious Wilderness Blue Flag Once Again to Fly during the 2018/19 Blue Flag Season 

Prestigious Wilderness Blue Flag Once Again to Fly during the 2018/19 Blue Flag Season 

The Garden Route District Municipality is proud to announce that the Wilderness Blue Flag beach has been awarded Pilot Status and will be flying its flag once again during the 2018/19 Blue Flag season. The Garden Route District Municipality, George Municipality and the South African National Parks (SANParks) are committed to the Blue Flag programme, and have put resources together to work towards the goal of achieving compliance of the Wilderness beach with the strict WESSA Blue Flag criteria, and together ensured the successful Pilot status achieved by the beach.

The official Wilderness season period will be running from the 1st of December 2018 to the 31st of January 2019. 

For the coming Blue Flag season, a total of 66 Blue Flags were awarded by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) nationally, consisting of 46 beaches, eight marinas and 12 sustainable tourism boats. Within the Garden Route District, the beaches that were awarded Blue Flag status were the Natures Valley, Singing Kettle, the Waves, the Dunes, the Lookout beach, Robberg 5 (Bitou area), Buffalo Bay, Brenton on Sea (Knysna area), De Bakke, Little Brak, Hartenbos, Santos (Mossel Bay area), and the Lappiesbaai,  Preekstoel, Gouritsmond and Witsand (Hessequa area) beaches, as well as the Wilderness (George), Glentana (Mossel Bay), Jongensfontein and Still Bay west (Hessequa) beaches which were awarded Pilot Blue flag status.

During the coming 2018/19 season, the Wilderness beach will be in full compliance with the Blue Flag criteria by ensuring high standards of water quality monitoring, public safety and lifeguard services, and well maintained coastal amenities, amongst others. The Blue Flag recognition is regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known international eco-label and gives local and foreign visitors the knowledge that these beaches are clean, environmentally sound, and adhering to international safety and other tourist standards.

The voluntary Blue Flag eco-label is given to beaches that meet 33 main criteria which is spanning four aspects of coastal management, such as water quality; environmental education and information, environmental management as well as safety and services. The Garden Route District Municipality is continuously striving to provide top quality services to its community and is proud to assure a world class Wilderness beach. Through its commitment to the Blue Flag programme, the Municipality demonstrates a clear coastal vision to conserve our coastal resources and heritage.

Garden Route DM sponsors R100 000 to 2018 Fire Management Symposium – full report

Dignitaries from Government departments, local government, forestry companies, media houses, academic and research institutions, as well as landowners, attended the 2018 Fire Management Symposium at the George Campus of the Nelson Mandela University from 3 to 5 October 2018.

Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen (right), and former Principal of the Nelson Mandela University in George, Prof. Quinton Johnson (left), addressed the delegates at the gala evening on 4 October 2018.

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) sponsored an amount of R100 000 towards this event which attracted more than 200 delegates, both locally as well as abroad.

Acting Speaker of Garden Route DM, during his welcoming speech spoke about the initiatives implemented by the Garden Route DM, since the June 2017 fires destroyed many parts of the Garden Route.

In officially opening the event on 3 October 2018, Ms Pumeza Nodada, Acting Deputy Director-General for Forestry and Natural Resource Management, acknowledged that only by sharing the scarce resources across public & private sectors, we would be able to give effect to integrated veldt fire management (IFM). She pleaded that continuous efforts by all role players are needed to improve IFM. Ms Nodada also acknowledged the services currently rendered by institutions like Working on Fire and other organisations and highlighted: “These programmes are still contributing greatly to building the concept of integrated fire management”.

Speakers who addressed the delegates on the first day of the event, are from left: Dr Christo Marais, Chief Director at the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr Roger Godsmark, Operations Director of Forestry South Africa, Mr Paul Buchholz, Project Manager of the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative, Dr Jaap Steenkamp, Director of Forestry and Allied Manufacturing, Ms Pumeza Nodada, Acting Deputy Director-General: Forestry and Natural Resources Management, Mr Malcolm Procter, Deputy Director of Regulation and Oversight at DAFF, Mr Leo Long, Senior Practitioner for Training and Skills Development at SAFCOL, Mr Axel Jooste, Projects Manager at SAPPI Forestry, Mr John-John Emary from Volunteer Wildfire Services, as well as Dr Mmaphaka Tau, Deputy Director-General (Head) of the National Disaster Management Centre.

Dr Mmaphaka Tau, Deputy Director-General (Head) of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), shared with the delegates that South Africa experiences increasing levels of disaster risks which exposes us to a wide range of weather hazards. “The interplay of these hazards point to the need for an integrated approach and sustainable mechanisms in the management of the risks it poses,” Dr Mmapahaka added.

By using the eco-systems approach, Dr Mmapahaka said: “We must surely by now understand the threat of invasive alien species” and acknowledges that there is a need to prioritise the clearing of these species, as it affects our water security as well”.

Panel discussions throughout the events, allowed delegates to pose questions to the speakers. The first panel consisted of Mr Gerhard Otto, Manager of Disaster Management at Garden Route District Municipality, Ms Pumeza Nodada, Acting Deputy Director-General: Forestry and Natural Resources Management, Ms Pumeza Nodada, and Deputy Director-General (Head) of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau.

Cllr Barend Groenewald, Acting Speaker of GRDM, during his address, on behalf of the GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, emphasised the following: “It is a known fact that all communities are vulnerable to the impact of various types of disasters, especially those who are not as fortunate as others. Many members of society still barely have enough to fulfil their basic human needs.  As decision-makers and administrators who render services to communities, we have to recognise the diversity of our communities, adjust to the challenges of a dynamic environment and most importantly manage situations to the best of our ability with due consideration of scarce resources at our disposal”.

Officials from the Garden Route District Municipality who were present at the symposium, were: Executive Manager of Community Services, Mr Clive Africa, Acting Speaker, Cllr Barend Groenewald, Manager of Disaster Management, Mr Gerhard Otto and the Garden Route DM George Fire Station Officer, Mr Deon Stoffels.

Mr Paul Buchholz, Project Manager of the Environmental work stream of the former Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), elaborated on the activities performed soon after the outbreak of the June 2017 fires in the Garden Route and how these activities were maintained. Efforts ensured successful outcomes to prevent further damage to affected areas, e.g. one such activity was the installation of 34 kilometres of fire sausages (soil erosion prevention booms) at the most damaged and affected areas to ensure that sediment does not flow down from higher geographical areas.  Mr Buchholz acknowledged that this could not have been successfully implemented without the assistance of geographic information systems (GIS) to analyse the high-risk areas. A drone was also used to spot the most affected areas in order to prioritise and guide intervention initiatives.

The event was well-attended by representatives from forestry companies, government departments, including the National Disaster Management Centre, municipal authorities, media houses, private and public conservation bodies, academic and research institutions, as well as private and public landowners and land-managers.

The involvement of communities was also high on the agenda, when various role-players acknowledged that decisions cannot be taken without community inputs.  “We need to include our communities in decision-making processes; we need to have value in the protection of assets e.g. trees, infrastructure etc,” Mr Mr Leo Long, Senior Practitioner for Training and Skills Development at South African Forestry Companies Limited (SAFCOL) said.  “An inclusive evacuation plan needs to be developed and communicated. Identify, communicate and maintain safe areas of which in where the community can actively take part in,” Mr Long highlighted.

Prof. Ed Kirtley, Assistant Dean at the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology from the Oklahoma State University, also acknowledged the importance of community involvement. Through his presentation which was live-streamed at the event, he advised that formal  and informal leaders need to be engaged with as soon as possible after an event and said: “Authentically engage with the community in decision making, debate conflicting ideas, act, decide and move forward’’ and added that these relationships must be maintained.

Mr Axel Jooste from SAPPI Forestry presented “A Case of Factory Blindness” when he made an example of the case study of the Apollo 1 space mission fire that killed three astronauts of which the accident inquest was the “failure of imagination”.  Mr Jooste posed a question to the audience: “Are we also guilty of oversight: missing, overlooking, lack of imagination, blindness and blind spots?”.

The first day’s event followed by two more days of active participation and a gala evening which the Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen, and former Principal of the Nelson Mandela University in George, Prof. Quinton Johnson, also attended.  At the gala evening, these dignitaries addressed the audience about the issue of the expropriation of land which left many delegates with something important to think about.

Garden Route District Municipality sponsors R100 000 to the 2018 Fire Management Symposium

Dignitaries from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) currently represent the Municipality at the 2018 Fire Management Symposium hosted by the Nelson Mandela University in George.

GRDM sponsored an amount of R100 000 towards the initiative.

The three-day programme was officially opened on 3 October 2018, followed by a field trip the next day through the areas mostly affected by the June 2017 fires in the Knysna and Bitou municipal areas.

The programme will be concluded on 5 October 2018.

Severe Weather Alert (7-8 September 2018)

Level 5 Warning for RAIN for 7-8 September 2018.
The main areas to be affected will be:
  • Mossel Bay (LM)
  • George (LM)
  • Knysna (LM); and
  • Bitou (LM)
Please note that the YELLOW Level 3 Warning for RAIN issued yesterday remains in place for Hessequa Municipality for 7-8 September.
The Garden Route Disaster Management Centre in collaboration with the South African Weather Service will be monitoring the progress of this storm, please activate your local severe weather contingency arrangements and keep the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre updated of any severe weather-related incidents.
For emergencies contact 044 805 5071

Severe Weather Alert (7-8 September 2018)

Significant rainfall and intense downpours are expected on Friday, 7 September 2018, where flooding may be a risk. Thunderstorms are also possible. At this point, rainfall amounts expected 20-40mm along the South Coast (Riversdale to Plettenberg bay) and 50mm in the mountains. Also to note is that light rain is expected from Wednesday through to Saturday morning along the South Coast, which will act to saturate the ground.

Less snowfall expected, compared to the initial assessments done on Monday.  Although snowfalls still very likely for both Thursday and Friday over the Langeberge, Swartberge and Nuweveld berge, the snowfall will be lighter for the Outeniqua mountains than initially expected. Very cold weather will be persisting from today through to the weekend though.

However, please note that the models have not been consistent over the last few days in terms of amounts and locations, and thus the SAWS will monitor further.

Rampbestuur en Brandweer afdelings besoek Van Der Hoven Laerskool

“100 Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018” vieringe

Eden Distriksmunisipaliteit (Eden DM) se Rampbestuur en Brandweer afdelings het die Van Der Hoven Laerskool besoek. Die skool bestaan uit 4 onderwysers, ‘n sekretaresse en 75 leerders tot en met Graad 5.

Mnr Gerhard Otto van Eden DM het die verskillende afdelings aan die personeel en leerders voorgestel. Tydens die aktiwiteite het me Gail Bekeer noodhulpwenke aan die kinders verduidelik en me Tippie Bouwer het noodnommers aan die leerders verskaf. Brandweerpersoneel het ‘n skuim demonstrasie gedoen en die kinders hul ‘bunker’ pakke laat aantrek. Ter afsluiting, is kerrie en rys aan die leerders bedien, waarna ‘goodie bags’ en sakke vol klere aan almal oorhandig is.

Die skoolhoof, me Anita Oosthuizen, het die Eden span hartlik bedank vir die gebaar.