You are here: Project Dando 15 Feb Members Report on Floods
I don’t suppose the privileged inhabitants in 1912 thought to write a 1:100 year flood manual for Ingwelala. We could have used one, or at least edited the contents with an update!
My first acknowledgement is to those who suffered any trauma as well as sentimental and material loss during the Dando flood, not only to Ingwelala families, but those far and wide enough to be part of the Mpumalanga and Limpopo disaster areas. It was quite something to experience the force of water first hand. I for one have never seen water flow elsewhere with the speed it did in the Nhlaralumi River. With all the modern technology and global communication links in this modern day one would think potential victims could be forewarned?
My thanks are expressed to those Members who were patient and understanding, present at Ingwelala at the time of the flood. Certain calm prevailed whilst together we tried to understand and determine the immediate and long term impacts. There was a sincere interest in one another’s welfare. People shared food, resources, showed kindness and understanding to one another and most importantly shared information of mutual interest.
On behalf of the Board, thank you to those Members who have offered their unprecedented assistance, however prepared and skilled.
The staff as a whole – perhaps the best word is “overwhelmed” – and I do feel a lot for this team. Few can argue that 2011 was not challenging enough during the complex rebuild, where familiar office space and routines were thoroughly different to the norm, then the move into new and again different environs, then to stand and watch this water level rise and rise during the morning of 18 January, wondering when and where the flood waters would draw its final peg in the ground. Now for the clean-up, with limited access initially, accommodation challenges, disjointed insurance assessors timings – who comes first, who does what – not an easy time. The supervisory staff have by and large “being on the go” since 10 December. At the time of writing I can only marvel at their resolute approach and thank them on your behalf for everything they do for you.
From the Board’s perspective, there is no doubt in my mind the correct decision after assessing the damage was to close Ingwelala until it can provide a basket of safe access and traversing, a consistent water supply safe for human consumption, reliable communications, a back-up service of adequate shop stock, workshop repairs, maintenance needs, fuel sales and laundry facility. Apart from this was first assisting the affected Members with damaged bungalows.
Looking to the future there is endless optimism. A once in a lifetime event must surely present opportunities. There is absolutely no reason why the Share Block should not emerge (in time) a better product than before. This is an opportunity to learn from nature, to understand poor road alignment, vulnerable river crossings and to restore infrastructure even better than before. It will take time, and the Ingwelala you initially visit will be very different to the one you are familiar with. An example is the rebuilding of the roads.
Ingwelala is not fortunate to have a borrow pit for earth material to use to compact road surfaces, nor is it likely to apply for one – complex legislation and certain permits required – we have previously managed to get by without. What normally happens is that graders and bull dozers are used to recover this material that is washed off the road surfaces. These machines are contracted in because Ingwelala’s road equipment is too light to do rebuilding work. Our equipment is for running maintenance tasks only. The graders are strong enough to cut into and recover the washed material whilst using the bulk material to reshape the road camber. You need a camber to encourage water run-off to minimise surface damage. What follows is a heavy roller that binds the camber and simultaneously compacts the road surface. Mitre drains are then cut to channel water into the veld.
All of this necessary activity is accompanied by a negative visual effect. It is ugly for a while, as scarring takes place before the cycle of vegetation regrowth can take place. Roads become wider as the material that was side washed off the roads is recovered by the grader.
Another visual impact you will notice, and appear to worsen through the dry months, is the debris line that dries out. Together with the scouring and “thinning” of the riparian (river vegetation) zone this appearance will become more bleak as the winter progresses. The environmental damage is undoubtedly exacerbated by dam walls bursting upstream of Ingwelala. This debris deposit will no doubt be identified as potential fire risk (in camp) during future winters and may require burning off.
In closing, there have been several communications mailed to bungalow administrators and posted on the web site providing information, pictures and feedback around the Dando flood and the planned way forward to restore Ingwelala and re-open it to the Membership. The Board Chairman will provide weekly updates each Wednesday. Please be reassured The Board and staff remain committed to lift the force majeure ASAP. This may well occur in phases with certain restrictions imposed. Task teams are in place and working 24/7 to assist in expediting matters. Much progress has been made to date with partial restoration of Eskom power, boreholes, Telkom, roads and fences.
Thank you for your continued support, understanding and patience during this unexpected and very different journey. We miss seeing you at Ingwelala.