Disaster and Rapid Response Plan for St Francis
It was so encouraging to see that something is being actively put in motion with regard to formulating a disaster management plan. At a meeting held yesterday at St Francis Links yesterday, several key players from within St Francis community with representatives from various organisations including St Francis Bay Residents Association, Cape St Francis Civic Association, Sea Vista, FOSTER, NSRI, the Wind Farm, St Francis Links, Cape St Francis Resorts and the Airpark, amongst others attending.
Organised by Nigel Aitken the meeting was intended not to formulate a plan immediately but to identify the many aspects of managing a disaster that had to be considered. Once the analysis started it was surprising just how many facets there are that need to be addressed and sensibly St Francis Bay residents association chairman Wayne Furphy recorded comments and suggestions on a flip chart that will be condensed and distributed to the two sub-committees who are charged with the devising a more detailed agenda of requirements. The two sub-committees are loosely made up one for greater St Francis Bay area and the other for Cape St Francis incorporating the Airpark, Rocky Farm and Rebelsrus. Once these reports are completed the intention is to invite other major players including Eskom who own a huge tract of land with the area as well as the municipality.
An important element of whatever plan is eventually decided on will need local community support and to this end volunteers will be needed. This support will not entail only looking for front line firefighters to don their fireproof clothing and rush in to blazing fires or rush into swirling flood waters for those tasks will be left to those properly trained personnel to deal with. It is in all the other aspects of management where the community can assist sin manning the command centre and working in thesupport teams for all the logistical requirements
And this is the purpose of what was started at yesterday’s meeting, to identify all these essential support processes that must be in place with volunteers properly versed in what has to done the moment disaster strikes.
One very important aspect emerged from the meeting was of whatever plan is eventually introduced it is that of training of all those who form part of the overall plan. Whatever the disaster it would take time, hours even days in some instances to get municipal, regional, provincial or if required, national assistance to the area and thus a rapid response plan must be in place until outside support arrives.
It is important to note that whatever management plan is finally put in place it is not intended to replace nor supplant whatever disaster management plan is put in place by the province or municipality but rather to augment that plan. It was plainly obvious during the January fires that all other bodies brought into combat a disaster were working blindly and it is thus imperative that in any future catastrophe that they are supported by our local organisations to guide them in their efforts.
The public will be regularly updated as the plan unfolds for it is essential that every resident of St Francis is aware of what processes are in place and St Francis Today looks forward to assisting in informing all readers as the plan develops. Disaster can strike at any time and recent events in both Japan and Ecuador are prime examples. According to the EIA report on Thuyspunt earthquakes are unlikely in our part of the world but that is not to say other natural or unnatural disasters cannot beset us.
The disaster management meeting held at Cape St Francis Resort last Friday referred to in our article “Fire hazard ignored by disaster management planners” was a regional meeting organised by Sarah Baartman district and not part of the above which is a totally separate local initiative.