Disaster Management plan for St Francis?

St Francis must control its own disaster management plan!

We may be singing from a different musical when discussing implementing a disaster management plan following last week’s fires but the words seem all too familiar. When presenting the ‘Save St Francis’ initiative late last year, recently elected chairman of the St Francis Bay Residents Association, Wayne Furphy, laid out the facts that if residents do not do it for themselves, nothing is going to improve. His message was quite clear that St Francis Bay residents have to take control of their own destiny. And so although the tune for organising a Disaster Management plan may be different to the Save St Francis plan, the words have already been written.

Waiting for a miracle that the Kouga municipality will magically turn around the fortunes of St Francis Bay seems a lot less likely than our honourable President suddenly resigning and if there are any bookmakers in town, maybe they could give odds on both for certainly the longshot would be on the KM. Leaving KM to devise and implement a disaster management plan for St Francis is equally unlikely and the bets are on that in a few weeks the whole fire management debacle will have been forgotten and it will be business as usual.

But the residents of St Francis (Bay, Cape and Kromme) simply cannot let this be swept under the carpet. It is imperative that formulation of a disaster management plan, ‘by the residents, for the residents’ start immediately. Any such plan must incorporate both Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay and the two, CSF Civic Association and SFBRA, must combine their efforts, experience and management skills in devising such a plan. Cape St Francis did have a plan in place last week that incorporated FOSTER, Seal Point Boardriders and Cape St Francis Resort, not to overlook Elsa van Lingen whose efforts played a huge role in securing much needed assistance that finally saw a disaster averted.  Such experience is invaluable and is a certainly starting point.

At some point the Kouga municipality and Sarah Bartmann District Municipality, under which Kouga falls, have to become part of whatever management plan is put in place as they do control most of the available resources. But whatever plan is eventually agreed on, it needs to be managed by a local management committee that meet and update such a plan on an almost month to month basis. Passing control to a team that seldom interacts with or even visits St Francis on a regular basis is ludicrous.

And one question still remains! Why did it take so long for the Airforce helicopters to arrive? That additional air support had to be called in at extra cost to an already traumatised the community truly is unacceptable. Was Nero fiddling whilst St Francis burned? Visiting the National Disaster Management website (http://www.ndmc.gov.za/Home.aspx) possibly says it all for the “Latest News” shows the last entry was made on 9th January 2013. Have we had no disasters or near disasters in South Africa in over three years?