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25 June 2024 Media Release: Request for a Local Disaster declaration submitted by GRDM with specific reference to the Oudtshoorn municipal area

Media Release: Request for a Local Disaster declaration submitted by GRDM with specific reference to the Oudtshoorn municipal area

25 June 2024

In response to the severe flooding experienced between 8 April and 11 April 2024, and from 2 June to 6 June 2024, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) requested the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) to support a declaration of the Garden Route with specific reference to the Oudtshoorn Local Municipal area as a Local Disaster area. The PDMC pledged their support for the nearly R500 million submission. This was was subsequently submitted to the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to agree with the classification or to re-classify it.

The Garden Route district experienced prolonged and heavy rainfall and a downflow of water from adjacent districts, leading to the spilling of dams and significant downstream flooding. Several major and minor roads had to be closed, and in the Oudtshoorn area, the Koos Raubenheimer-, Kammanassie-, and Stompdrift Dams overflowed, contributing to the flooding of the Olifants River. The Stompdrift Dam overflowed for the first time in the last nine years and peaked at more than 136% in capacity. The Gamkapoort Dam also overflowed, intensifying the already critical situation. This resulted in extensive damage to both urban and rural infrastructure.

Damages reported for the Oudtshoorn Municipality are more than R100 million, agriculture-related damages are estimated at R182 million and damages to district roads and infrastructure are projected to surpass R200 million.

Under Schedule D2 of the powers delegated to the current Executive Mayor of GRDM, Ald. Gert van Niekerk by the Council, he has the authority to support or declare a local state of disaster if warranted by the Disaster Management Act, Act 57 of 2002, as amended.

Ald. Gert van Niekerk supported the declaration and said: “This type of declaration enables access to additional resources and funds to assist in restoring, rebuilding, and improving infrastructure damaged after a disastrous event.”

Gerhard Otto, heading Disaster Management at GRDM indicated that: “The declaration of a local disaster will allow the municipality to access disaster recovery and rehabilitation grant funding and permit the necessary provincial and municipal budgets to be supplemented to address the damages caused by the flooding. It will also allow for emergency procurement procedures to be followed to not only fast track rehabilitation and recovery work but also to allow for building back better to ensure a more resilient Garden Route”.

The process for declaring a local disaster involves:

  • A decision agreed to by the Councils of both the Local and District Municipality.
  • A request from the Municipal Disaster Management Centre to the PDMC for the declaration.
  • A Provincial Cabinet Resolution recommending or not recommending the request.
  • Confirmation from the National Disaster Management Centre through a classification process, followed by publication in the provincial gazette.

“Prior to the floods, the GRDM received multiple impact-based weather warnings from the South African Weather Services (SAWS), including warnings for damaging winds, waves, and disruptive rain. These warnings were disseminated to all relevant stakeholders, enabling proactive measures and contingency plans to be put in place,” said Otto.

Despite these measures, the floodwaters caused significant disruptions, including the closure of Meiringspoort, low-water bridges in Oudtshoorn, and various other roads due to flooding and rock falls. The flood also necessitated the evacuation of the Calitzdorp Hot Springs Resort and the rescue of dozens of people cut off by floodwaters in Oudtshoorn.

The GRDM in the past has successfully coordinated the declaration of local disasters for the 2010 Drought, 2006 as well as the 2022 Floods and the storm surges of 2023. Following the latter two declared disasters more than R280 million disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction grant funding were provided to the George-, Oudtshoorn-, Hessequa- and Knysna Local Municipalities to execute rehabilitation and reconstruction projects with the emphasis on building back better.

Feature image: N12 between Oudtshoorn and De Rust was damaged during the floods.