CITY’S DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT TEAM READY FOR WINTER STORMS
|MEDIA RELEASE |
14 JUNE 2006
CITY’S DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT TEAM READY FOR WINTER STORMS
The City’s disaster risk management team has initiated an action plan to deal with any winter storm floods which usually hit informal settlements during this time of the year.
The team is a joint effort between the City of Cape Town, Provincial Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The Major Flooding and Storms Plan includes the unblocking of stormwater drains, the upgrading of stormwater systems, regular inspections of retention ponds, a public education programme and an emergency plan to handle possible disasters. The City has also signed an agreement with the Trauma Centre to assist victims of storms or floods with psychological assessment and support.
“The City has pro-actively identified and mapped high flood risk areas. We have introduced special flood risk reduction measures, such as improved drainage and preventative maintenance of existing stormwater systems by Roads and Stormwater teams,” says Councillor Dumisani Ximbi, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security.
“Our ongoing public education programme in partnership with environmental training provides residents with practical tips on how to raise floor levels, channel flood waters, as well as reduce health hazards associated with standing water,” he says.
The City’s emergency plan is co-ordinated at a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) where a multi-disciplinary rapid response team manages and executes contingency plans. It also acts as a central information point to inform the public on the situation at hand through fast and effective communication during emergencies.
“Once the SA Weather Service issues a severe weather warning, the City will immediately communicate the news directly to the areas at risk.
“We have also identified various emergency shelters to help minimise disruption of lives and community activities. People will be encouraged to first try and find alternative accommodation with neighbours, friends or families before being housed in community facilities.
“Community halls do not offer privacy and the already traumatised flood victims’ dignity may suffer. This will therefore be a last resort,” Councillor Ximbi says.
The City’s emergency plan provides for the response team to, together with identified NGOs, disseminate blankets, food and basic necessities to alleviate the trauma usually experienced by flood victims and to provide for the immediate, basic needs of affected communities. It also provides specific information with regard to health issues, the registration of victims and emergency shelters.
After the devastating summer fires on various parts of Table Mountain, the City have also implemented precautionary measures to address possible mudslides, in partnership with South African National Parks.
Experts have examined and evaluated the high risk slopes and have proposed various measures, such as special rock filled gabion weirs and silt curtains in certain areas to intercept debris and minimize run off down the slopes.
“Despite the City’s preparedness, we would like to point out that flooding and mudslides may still occur due to the variable climatic conditions,” he says.
Due to the very nature of flooding, it cannot be completely prevented as rainfall often exceeds the design capacity of the stormwater system.
To report flooding or blocked drains please phone the all hours Roads and Stormwater number at 086-010-3054. In the event of a life- or property threatening emergency, contact 107 from a Telkom phone or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.
MEDIA LIAISON OFFICER
TEL: 021 400 1292 CELL: 084 300 0630
DIRECTORATE: COMMUNICATION AND MARKETING
CITY OF CAPE TOWN
TEL: 021 400-2201 FAX: 021 957 0023
DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT CENTRE
TEL: 021 590 1706 CELL: 084 220 0074
EXECUTIVE SUPPORT OFFICER: COUNCILLOR XIMBI
TEL: 021 400 1291 CELL: 084 200 2275
Frequently Asked Questions
Which are the high risk flood areas in the Cape metropole?
* The severity and spread of the winter storms will ultimately determine which areas are most at risk.
* The following areas are most likely to experience flooding:
- Informal settlements on the Cape Flats
- Areas within or adjacent to stormwater ponds
- Areas adjacent to rivers, canals and wetlands
- Areas below mountain slopes denuded by fires
- Trapped low-lying areas without adequate overland water flow routes
* Based on past experience, the City estimates that some 5 000 informal dwellings could be affected should Cape Town experience average winter conditions during 2006. This number could rise in the event of high intensity storms.
What is the City doing to minimise flood risk?
FIRE AFFECTED MOUNTAIN AREAS
* Ensuring that the City’s stormwater drainage close to burnt out areas are cleaned and kept clean. This includes stream intakes, gullies, catch pits, open ditches and piping. A first round of cleaning of all the affected areas has already been completed and a second round is underway. Further, after each rainstorm inspections are done and blocked and even partially blocked facilities are cleared.
* The Roads and Stormwater depots and three cleaning contractors are on 24 hour alert to react immediately to flooding and mudslides. The Table Mountain National Park will also supply emergency crews once alerted.
FORMAL AND INFORMAL AREAS
* Pro-active maintenance (mainly cleaning) of stormwater facilities by means of contracted services
* Reactive maintenance work, such as response to flood incidents is generally undertaken by the Roads and Stormwater Department’s maintenance depots
* Informal settlements - current maintenance interventions underway to mitigate potential flood impacts. Maintenance efforts focus on the formal drainage systems either surrounding or within the various settlements
* Primarily focus on improving stormwater maintenance practice and to ensure equity in the distribution of resources
* Additional contractor teams has been established to assist with inspecting and clearing out critical stormwater systems, ie - trash screens, in & outlets, intakes before or after a rainfall event
COMMUNICATION AND AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
* Communication campaign consisting of:
- News releases
- Workshops with stakeholders
- Letters to residents of potential flood risk areas
- Information notices to organisations
- Personal visits
- A trilingual brochure called “Protect Yourself from Floods” has been distributed to residents within high-flood risk areas, as well as fire and flooding preparedness education sessions with many of the communities.
* In consultation with local community structures every effort is being made to warn all high-risk flood-prone settlements of their status and to encourage them to relocate elsewhere.
What can residents [ informal and formal settlements] do to minimise risks?
- Waterproof your roof
- Secure your roof and remove any loose material on your property in case of gale force winds
- Check that stormwater systems around your home and in your neighbourhood are clean and working well. Report blocked or damaged stormwater systems to the City.
* Informal areas:
- Ensure that water can drain away from your house
- Move to higher ground if you are staying in a flood-prone area
* Formal areas:
- Check that gutters, downpipes, drains and furrows on your property will allow free flow of stormwater
- Remove dead or damaged branches from trees
- Secure garden furniture that can be blown over or damaged by the wind
Where can blocked sewers and drains be reported?
Flooding or blocked drains:
Please phone the all hours Roads and Stormwater number at 086-010-3054
Life- or property threatening emergencies:
Please call 107 from a Telkom phone or (021) 480 7700 from a cellphone.
What steps are implemented when disaster strikes?
* Victims are registered according to a standard procedure whereby City officials, the Ward Councillor, Subcouncil Manager, community leaders and representatives of the affected people work as an area disaster team.
* This team then determines the short term needs such as shelter and social relief.
* Suitable shelter is then arranged at community halls if required.
* Depending on the nature of the incident, the City may implement engineering works to stabilise the situation, reduce flooding and fire risk, and to facilitate reconstruction.
* Human Settlement Services can provide basic building materials to informal settlement residents where structural damage occurs.
How are people registered for assistance?
* The area disaster team oversees the registration process.
* The name of the head of each affected family will be linked to a plot or dwelling
* The number of people per family is then recorded
* Each family receives a unique number to control the allocation of shelter, blankets, food, etc
What type of assistance does the City offer to residents?
* Donations are used when available
* The City provides community facilities for temporary shelter
* The City co-ordinates the dissemination of blankets, clothes and food with registered NGOs, with financial assistance from provincial government
* Depending on the damage caused, the City may provide basic building or waterproofing materials
* The City will provide filler material where filling of depressions can alleviate flooding, or where the raising of floor levels will reduce the ponding of water inside homes.
How and where can people apply for assistance
The multi-disciplinary team dealing with flooding will assess every situation upon receiving information via the emergency call centre or the City’s flooding reporting number. Contact will be made with communities in this process.
On behalf of the City of Cape Town