Category: <span>Disaster Management</span>

15 January 2022 Impact Based Warning: Severe Thunderstorms

Impact Based Warning: Severe Thunderstorms

15 January 2022

Hazard Alert Level Affected Municipalities Valid From (SAST) Valid To (SAST)
Severe Thunderstorms Yellow (L2) (High likelihood of Minor Impacts) Beaufort West, Hantam, Kannaland, Karoo Hoogland, Khâi-Ma, Laingsburg, Oudtshoorn, Prince Albert 15/01/22 11h00 15/01/22 22h00

Discussion: Showers and thundershowers are expected to develop over the interior of the Namakwa as well as the Central and Little Karoo from early afternoon, where some may become severe with quick and heavy downpours (30-40mm/hour) which can lead to flash flooding as well as possible large amounts of small hail (diameter of 2cm and less).

Impact: Localised flash flooding of susceptible roads, low-lying areas and bridges (main concern being the N1 and the Swartberg Pass) which can lead to difficult driving conditions especially where the roads are slippery due to the combination of hail and pooling of water on the roads and the heavy downpour that can reduce visibility. This may contribute to minor vehicle accidents and longer travel times. Localised damage to infrastructure and settlements (mainly informal) and localised and short term disruption to municipal and other essential services are also possible.

Instruction: If possible stay indoors away from metal objects. Do not seek shelter under trees or tall objects. Do not go fishing or play golf as both the golf clubs and fishing rods are good conductors of electricity. Be aware that any combination of hail, strong winds and/or heavy downpours can accompany the storms.

Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance. It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICE
Cape Town Weather Office
2nd Floor: Oval Office Park
Cape Town Int airport
Freight Road
Matroosfontein
Cape Town

15 December 2021 Media Release: Garden Route DM HAZMAT crash simulation conducted in Hessequa

Media Release: Garden Route DM HAZMAT crash simulation conducted in Hessequa

For Immediate Release
15 December 2021

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) collaboratively conducted an emergency preparedness exercise (EPE) recently, along the N2 at the Still Bay turn-off, with the Hessequa Municipality, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as well as emergency response staff. The primary purpose of this particular simulation was to test the current systematic approach in dealing with a hazardous material (HAZMAT) incident in a safe manner.

“Our experience and knowledge of past incidents inform many of our responses; however, we need also to be adaptable to the unknown,” said Martina MacDonald, GRDM Disaster Management Officer in Hessequa.

“During this type of incident, we assess the response, collaboration and communication of stakeholders during a disaster-related incident.”

The EPE simulation involved a tanker carrying a hazardous substance (UN 1828) that collided with a light motor vehicle. This led to a HAZMAT spill from the tanker and resulted in injuries and death.

A debriefing session took place whereby all stakeholders raised matters that required attention. “Refresher training, compatibility of radio communication, and crowd control were some of the issues identified that require attention,” said MacDonald.

The GRDM considers EPEs as the most vital part of learning about emergencies, plans and procedures experimentally.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Head of Disaster Management, the GRDM needs to ensure that what is written on paper can be used in real life. “The Garden Route Disaster Management Centre, in collaboration with Local Municipalities and first responders, resolved to do more of these types of simulations and exercises,” said Otto.

According to him, Covid-19 has resulted in face-to-face exercises being limited and for most preparedness exercises to be done as informal, discussion-based sessions. “This specific simulation was done when Covid-19 positive cases were at its lowest point towards the end of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Garden Route,” concluded Otto.

ENDS

13 December 2021 Media Release: Water flowing in the Olifants River brings some relief to drought-stricken farmers

Media release: Water flowing in the Olifants River brings some relief to drought-stricken farmers

For Immediate Release
13 December 2021

Widespread heavy rains over the past few weeks have resulted in areas in the Garden Route experiencing flash floods. Meteorologists globally attribute this phenomenon to a “La Niña” weather season.

Rains in the Klein Karoo resulted in the Olifants River (Afrikaans: Olifantsrivier) flowing again after being dry for an extended period. The last time the river had this much water was in 2006.

It rained twice a week in the Klein Karoo for the past month and the recent cloud burst over Oudtshoorn pushed large amounts of water into the Olifants River.

Mr Gerhard Otto, Head of Disaster Management at Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) said that the GRDM, in conjunction with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), are carefully monitoring the water levels of the Olifants and Gamka rivers. They are also keeping a close eye on the upstream river water levels of Calitzdorp Spa.  “We have several early warning systems in place should the Spa be affected by flash floods,” said Otto.

This Olifants River has its origins in the Traka and Kalkwal Rivers north of the Swartberg, becoming the Olifants River after flowing through the Toorwaterpoort, flowing west through Oudtshoorn. It then joins the Gamka River to form the Gourits River and heads south to its mouth at Gouritsmond in the southern coast of the Western Cape.

Melanie Wilson, GRDM Manager, Economic Development and Tourism responded with enthusiasm about the rains by saying: “This is welcomed with open arms and will definitely give a break to the agricultural sector in that area.” She cautioned that the challenge still exists of the water running away from the area and that a system to store it is not in place yet. “This does not benefit the agricultural sector to the extent we’d like it to yet – those residing in the area barely cope with the severe drought that gripped the area for a few years”.

Otto agreed and noted that all possible measures should be taken to optimise every drop of rainwater, which is crucial for water-stressed areas like the Klein Karoo.

Although farmers are extremely grateful for each drop of water received, it must be noted that those who farm with stock, will only find themselves in a better position in about six weeks’ time. This is because grazing will become possible again, instead of having to rely on food pallets to feed the animals.

The levels of the major dams that provide drinking water for the Garden Route are as follows:

  • Garden Route dam: 100% – Source of drinking water for George;
  • Wolwedams dam:100,57% – Source of drinking water for Mossel Bay
  • Koos Raubenheimer dam: 100 % – Source of drinking water for  Oudtshoorn;
  • Korente Vet/ Poort dam: 104,23% Source of drinking water for  Riversdale;
  • Duiwenhoks dam: 102,38% Source of drinking water for  Heidelberg;
  • Roodefontein dam: 102,1% –  source of drinking water for Bitou; and
  • Calitzdorp dam: 64,55%- Source of drinking water for Calitzdorp.

The levels of the dams that provide water for irrigation in the Klein Karoo are in stark contrast to those in the rest of the Garden Route and the community remains hopeful that this will change. The levels of Stompdrift and Kammanassie are currently below 6 and 4% respectively.

Caption: Feature image: Olifants River flowing again after an extended dry period.

END

24 November 2021 Impact Based Warning: Level 8 Damaging Winds & Level 2 Damaging Waves

The Cape Town Weather Office has issued impact based warnings for (1) Level 8 Damaging Winds and (2) Level 2 Damaging Waves for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape as follows:

Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance. It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

Report any weather related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044-805 5071.

ENDS

23 November 2021 Impact Based Weather Warning – Yellow level 4: Damaging Winds

Impact Based Weather Warning – Yellow level 4: Damaging Winds

Please find included the Impact Based Warning for the Beaufort West, Bitou, George, Hantam, Hessequa, Kannaland, Karoo Hoogland, Khai-Ma, Knysna, Laingsburg, Oudtshoorn, Bitou and Prins Albert.

“An intense weather system will result in strong to gale force southeast to easterly winds (60-70km/h gusting 80-100km/h between Saldanha Bay and Plettenberg Bay from Thursday until Saturday, moderating north of Cape Point Friday morning. Over the interior, strong to gale force northeasterly winds will affect the eastern Namakwa District (Northern Cape) and Western Cape, spreading to Garden Route by Friday. Saturday, north-westerlies will develop along the North Cape coast where it will be strong to near gale (25-27/11/2021).”

Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance.
It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

Report any weather related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044 805 5071.

22 November 2021@8H00 Garden Route District Municipality JOC Update

22 November 2021 Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Joint Operations Centre (JOC) update at 08H00

The GRDM JOC has been activated to monitor the heavy rainfall experienced in certain parts of the Garden Route. The main area of concern remains George and surroundings. The GRDM Emergency call centre has confirmed that all logged calls currently relate to incidents in the George Municipal area.

The GRDM JOC has requested their disaster management coordinators from Bitou and Mossel Bay to activate JOCs in those respective areas.

Report flood-related incidents to the 24/7 Emergency Call Centre of GRM, 044 805 5071. Issued: GRDM JOC

20 November 2021 Impact Based Warning – Disruptive Rain

Impact Based Warning – Disruptive Rain

Issued: 20 November 2021

Please find below an Impact Based Warning for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape

Valid from Monday 22/11/21 00h00 to 22/11/21 23h59

Report any weather-related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044 805 5071.

__________________________

Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance.
It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

27 October 2021 Media Release: First case of Avian Influenza reported in the Garden Route

Media Release: First case of Avian Influenza reported in the Garden Route

For Immediate Release
27 October 2021

Yesterday, 26 October 2021, the first confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) bird death was reported in the Hessequa municipal area. Currently more than 13 000 birds in South Africa have died from this disease, of which most are Cape cormorants (Phalacrocorax capensis).

According to Gerhard Otto, Manager: Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Disaster Management, the epicentre of the outbreak is at Dyer Island, which is also the main breeding island of these specific species in our country. “A wide range of seabirds, including pelicans, gulls, and cormorants have been affected,” said Otto. “We are concerned about HPAI, as veterinarians from Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds recently indicated that the outbreak could wipe out an entire endangered species of cormorants.”

“HPAI is a highly contagious viral disease of birds with no curative or preventative treatment,” reported the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

Otto stated that “regular patrols are being conducted by Cape Nature and burial sites have already been identified for the region”.

To keep tabs on the spread of this outbreak, GRDM developed a standard operating procedure for call centre employees to follow when dealing with reports about bird deaths. The GRDM Disaster Management Centre urges the public to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities or abnormal numbers of sick birds to their local conservation authority, state veterinarian or the 24/7 GRDM Emergency Call Centre on 044 805 5071.

SANCCOB, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, CapeNature, SANParks, Garden Route District Municipality, Local Municipalities and local veterinarians are collaborating to monitor and manage the situation.

ENDS

Feature image: Cape Cormorant bird (iStock)

15 October 2021 Update: Avian Influenza outbreak


Update: Avian Influenza outbreak

For Immediate Release
15 October 2021

Western Cape authorities continue to respond to an outbreak of Avian Influenza amongst wild seabirds, primarily along parts of the West Coast but also in parts of the Overberg. Clean up operations will continue over the weekend.

The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, says it remains critical to conduct thorough clean up operations and to work hard and fast to prevent the spreading of the virus to other sectors of the province.

“Teams are still collecting dead and sick birds from areas where infection has been reported. We are keeping an eye on Dyer Island where clean up teams yesterday picked up 1595 dead birds. However, the situation in Bergriver Municipality area appears to be improving. From 1500 dead birds collected on Wednesday, we only collected 100 yesterday. In addition, our partners have reported no more carcasses have been found on Robben Island yesterday but they will check again today. We are hoping this trend continues dropping today and over the weekend.”

Bredell says a disposal site has been identified and prepared for the disposal of the infected wild bird carcasses. Veterinarians also continue providing assistance. Officials are following advice provided by Veterinary Services in terms of how to manage the sick birds.

“I want to thank all our workers and partners who mobilized rapidly to help and continue to work hard to stop the spread of this virus. I also want to repeat this critical message to the public: Please do not approach or touch any sick or dead birds. If you spot a bird behaving strangely, or a dead bird, please call the closest municipal office, conservation authority or your local vet.

Contact details for state veterinarians are available at https://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services-0#s=Animal-Health-and-Disease-Control

ENDS

Media enquiries:
James-Brent Styan
Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell

Mobile:                   084 583 1670
Telephone:            021 483 2820
E-mail:                    James-Brent.Styan@westerncape.gov.za

14 October 2021 Urgent Alert: Suspected outbreak of Avian Influenza

Urgent Alert: Suspected outbreak of Avian Influenza

For Immediate Release
14 October 2021

Western Cape authorities are responding to a suspected outbreak of Avian Influenza amongst wild seabirds in the Bergrivier Municipality on the West Coast as well as the Walker Bay area in the Overberg. All disaster nodes have been alerted and Bergrivier Municipality, both the Overberg and West Coast District Municipalities and CapeNature have already deployed teams of officials to collect the dead and sick birds. Veterinarians are on scene assisting and officials are following advice provided by Veterinary Services in terms of how to manage the sick birds.

The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, is urging the public to avoid the area and in particular not to collect or touch sick or dead birds. “It is critical to prevent the spread of the disease. This means people must not attempt to assist or transport any sick birds, even to take them to rehabilitation centres and veterinarians as this could spread the disease. It is critical to keep a controlled environment.”

At the moment, Bergrivier Municipality remains the hotspot area with reports of dead birds from Velddrif to Arniston. Neighbouring municipalities have been alerted and urged to be cautious and to keep an eye out for potential spreading of the disease. There are additional hotspots on Dyer island and Robben Island which are receiving attention. The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre is currently doing an assessment to determine if the outbreak constitutes a disaster or not.

“This is a serious situation. We note that the deaths are occurring currently amongst endangered wild birds including cormorants. Yesterday alone an estimated 1500 dead cormorants were collected in the region.”

The current virus strain was detected in wild birds in May 2021, mainly affecting gulls. The first cormorants were only diagnosed with the disease in mid-September and cases have increased rapidly over the past week.

“This is an incurable disease affecting birds, that is not preventative, cannot be treated and is highly contagious to birds,” says Bredell.

There is also currently no evidence that this virus poses any risk or threat to humans. However, humans can transmit the virus from sick birds to other birds if their clothes or hands gets contaminated. People are advised not to handle the birds at all unless it is absolutely unavoidable and in that instance to please use gloves and face masks.

The Disaster Management Centre urges the public to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities in any birds to their local municipality, conservation authority or state veterinarian.

Contact details for state veterinarians are available at:
https://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services-0#s=Animal-Health-and-Disease-Control

ENDS

Media enquiries:
James-Brent Styan
Spokesperson: Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, Anton Bredell
Mobile:  084 583 1670
Telephone:  021 483 2820
E-mail:  James-Brent.Styan@westerncape.gov.za