Blog 18 September 2012

 
News Updates today in St Francis Bay

1.  ST FRANCIS CONNECT ARTICLE - More on Santareme Flooding in St Francis Bay


More on Santareme Flooding in St Francis Bay

What could happen when the next pool behind Santareme bursts its banks?  Saturday morning for St Francis Bay was bleak. One of the dune pools behind Santareme busts its banks creating vast amount of damage to homes in Tom Brown Boulevard in particular. The holiday home that took one the worst brunt’s belongs to Mike and Bev Denbury who reside in Botswana. It’s like a landslide hit their home. I shudder to think what could have happened if they were there! Trapped behind Trellidoors.  What do you do when waves of water come through your house and you are trapped? Many residents thought it was a Tsunami coming from Cape St Francis. Where do you run to? Fortunately there was no one harmed. A warning perhaps?

The residents in Santareme are now afraid of the biggest dune pool bursting. If it does, predictions are that it will take out houses in its path.  There has been some feedback and suggestions made as to how to remedy the situation of the next dune pool bursting its banks. (Please note that these are NOT dams but dune pools.)  He (Our mayor Mr Koerat) promises that the Kouga Municipality will install a siphon system to drain water from the “Santareme Dam to ease pressure on the dam’s walls.” He could not even ease the water log in Sea Vista after many cries for help.

Now here I have a problem…..Apparently our mayor gave assurances this morning that we are safe from “dam floods”. Again….these are not dams but natural dune pools. What qualifications does our mayor have to make such a statement? This is grave! Today my colleague made contact with Professor Fred Ellery, who visited St Francis Bay yesterday, who suggested that the water should not be siphoned out as this could possibly lead to more damage along the way. He suggested that it would be better to strengthen the pool walls.

Now, I have another moral dilemma….at the march last week our mayor said that the march was all about Elitist whites marching. Why is he now so interested in saving the Elitist homes? Why was he not there at the Outreach Program when Sea Vista was so under water that people could not get to their homes?  He sends his heartfelt condolences to the home owners that were affected by this disaster. What about the Sea Vista residents who seriously battled through the heavy rains.  What can I Say!


2.  ST FRANCIS CONNECT ARTICLE - Act now to avert loss of life in St Francis


Act now to avert loss of life in St Francis

Our council will have to move fast to stop another disaster which could claim a life this time.We were fortunate that this calamity happened during the day and that no life was lost. Imagine the disorientation and terror if it had happened at night? Looking at the issues in front of me I am staggered by the complexity of it all. We have life itself at stake. We have a natural “soft landscape”, as Prof Ellery puts it, an unusually high rain fall this year, aging and inadequate infrastructure and a council without funds. We now know that this “Oyster Bay headland-bypass dunefield” system, as Prof Ellery has termed it, is prone to sand, water and debris flow. Leighton Hulett, bless his soul, had no inkling about this when he started developing St Francis Bay…but nature moves at her own pace and now, 50 years or a blink of an eye later, we have a couple of these phenomena happening, affecting our lives drastically. 

Lets face it, we are partly to blame for the results we have here.  We have neatly boxed in this dune-field above St Francis Dr with St Francis Dr and Santareme being the main culprits.  That intersection … corner of Diaz and St Francis Drives is the path of least resistance. My prediction, based on the topography and location of these pools is that the next flow will happen at the exact same place with much greater consequences if we don’t act NOW!

I have driven through bumper high pools to have a look at the issue (lost my number plate in the process!). A friend of mine did the same about a month ago. Yesterday he told me that it was too deep for his 4×4 vehicle this time he went to have a look.  He observed a lot of these smaller pools draining into the larger pool.  Adding to these pools is the Municipal Water works, next to the tips. It has a pipe that is pumping water onto the landscape 24/7!

 

Act now to avert loss of life in St Francis

So, it is clear, this pool is getting bigger and something HAS to be done. Just last night we had a heavy downpour, adding to this problem.  What do we do?  Prof Ellery’s take is that we must be CAREFUL!!! Do not mess with this, he says. There is no question about a controlled breaching as we know we cannot control it.  He has suggested that we fortify the dunes to contain the pools and wait for the water table to subside. I don’t know if he was aware of the fact that this pool is getting bigger and bigger as all the other pools are draining into this natural basin hugging the dune on the perimeter of the Air-park.

Council has announced that they intend siphoning off the water. I think this is a wise move. Something HAS to be done. Trying to contain it could amplify the eventual disaster.  We have to be very careful about how this siphoning is done and the pool must not be disturbed.  Based on calculations done by Prof Ellery, the pool is a kilometer long and 400m wide. I conservatively estimated that the pool is 1m deep….that is almost half a milion cubic meter of water! We have to treat it with caution and not have a repeat of the Sand River Bridge washing away. This time lives could be lost.

Have a look at this. The “your comment” portion is what Prof Ellery wrote following years of studying the landscape. The “response” is from Dr Illenberger, who lives in New Zealand and has only been on site once, for a couple of hours.



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