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14 June 2006 CITY’S DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT TEAM READY FOR WINTER STORMS

MEDIA RELEASE NO. 198/2006 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 proactively 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 family 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.

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