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Knysna will Rise stronger than before - Knysna Executive Mayor

Thursday, 22 June 2017 14:24 Written by  Knysna Plett Herald
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Last week, council resolved that the Knysna Disaster Relief Fund will focus on providing humanitarian assistance that will benefit all the communities of Greater Knysna affected by the fire. Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said, "Today we put structures in place to ensure the Knysna Disaster Fund is managed against clear objectives, with transparency and strict accountability."

The remaining set objectives include trauma counselling, clean-up initiatives, alleviating environmental concerns and rehabilitating vegetation, business and economic development support.

Humanitarian assistance
Hundreds of people have been displaced due to the loss of their homes and possessions. Donations of blankets, food, toiletries and clothing have met much of the initial requirements. However, rehousing takes time and there will be a need to provide medical care, shelter, mattresses, household utensils, water and numerous other items for some period of time to enable people to get back on their feet.

Finance
We are extremely thankful for all the donations received from the SA community, and abroad. A ring-fenced account has been established for monetary donations and expenditure against this fund will be independently audited. Donors are urged to be wary of scam accounts.

The official account for Knysna relief is:
Name: Emergency Fund
Nedbank account no. 1147920699
Ref: Knysna Fire
Swift code: NEDSZAJJ

Infrastructure
The replacement and upgrading of existing infrastructure will receive priority attention, enabling reliable power, water provision, storage and usage, better waste management, modern communication highways and improved road, rail and water transport.

An asbestos specialist has also been brought on board who will work in conjunction with Eden District health services to advise on the proper disposal of asbestos sheeting.
While some streets in Knysna Heights are still without power, the municipality said that power would be restored in Brenton-on-Sea by June 23, and restored to Brackenhill and Kruisfontein by June 30.

Trauma counselling and support
Expert counselling will be required, in varying degrees, for those directly affected by loss as well as those who witnessed the ravages of the fire. Rebuilding the town as a tourist destination with a thriving community will depend on how well those living in the town overcome their shared experience and trauma. A trauma counselling centre has been set up at the Knysna Library.

Environmental management
Among the reasons that the fire was so devastating was because of the drought, shortage of water, and proliferation of alien vegetation, particularly wattle and eucalyptus. Fires generally result in an increased growth spurt of these invasive species, laying the seeds for an even more devastating fire in the future, and programmes must be put in place to continuously remove and limit the new growth of alien vegetation, and the hillsides and dunes laid bare need to be rehabilitated urgently. Should there be heavy rainfall, mudslides may occur, and consequent silting can damage the Knysna River Estuary and the lagoon with long-term effects.

Business support
Many unique small and medium-sized businesses have been devastated by the fires, particularly timber mills and furniture factories that made a name using indigenous woods. The fund will be utilised to provide support to assist small businesses to restart, or new ventures to come into being, thereby providing the means to regenerate business opportunities and tourism.

Housing
A geotechnical study of the informal settlement area affected by the fire found the site safe for building. It is envisaged that in addition to rebuilding homes on the site, proper services will be established. The municipality is in the process of assessing all homes lost, to establish the full extent of the damage.

Employment
The fund needs to focus on local employment and using, as far as possible, local skills of builders, plumbers, electricians, suppliers, professional skills and expertise. We will seize the opportunity to upgrade local skills and to grow industrial and artisan expertise in our town.

"Around 2 500 jobs have been affected and in Knysna's rebuild effort, we want local residents to benefit from the jobs created. In the short term, we need clean-up jobs, and in the long term, we need the full range of artisans including plumbers, electricians, builders and bricklayers.

We are working across all spheres of government on a plan to upskill our people to take up new opportunities.
"Knysna will rise, and we will rise stronger than ever before."

Last week, council resolved that the Knysna Disaster Relief Fund will focus on providing humanitarian assistance that will benefit all the communities of Greater Knysna affected by the fire. Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said, "Today we put structures in place to ensure the Knysna Disaster Fund is managed against clear objectives, with transparency and strict accountability." The remaining set objectives include trauma counselling, clean-up initiatives, alleviating environmental concerns and rehabilitating vegetation, business and economic development support. Humanitarian assistance Hundreds of people have been displaced due to the loss of their homes and possessions. Donations of blankets, food, toiletries and clothing have met much of the initial requirements. However, rehousing takes time and there will be a need to provide medical care, shelter, mattresses, household utensils, water and numerous other items for some period of time to enable people to get back on their feet. Finance We are extremely thankful for all the donations received from the SA community, and abroad. A ring-fenced account has been established for monetary donations and expenditure against this fund will be independently audited. Donors are urged to be wary of scam accounts. The official account for Knysna relief is: Name: Emergency Fund Nedbank account no. 1147920699 Ref: Knysna Fire Swift code: NEDSZAJJ  InfrastructureThe replacement and upgrading of existing infrastructure will receive priority attention, enabling reliable power, water provision, storage and usage, better waste management, modern communication highways and improved road, rail and water transport. An asbestos specialist has also been brought on board who will work in conjunction with Eden District health services to advise on the proper disposal of asbestos sheeting. While some streets in Knysna Heights are still without power, the municipality said that power would be restored in Brenton-on-Sea by June 23, and restored to Brackenhill and Kruisfontein by June 30. Trauma counselling and support Expert counselling will be required, in varying degrees, for those directly affected by loss as well as those who witnessed the ravages of the fire. Rebuilding the town as a tourist destination with a thriving community will depend on how well those living in the town overcome their shared experience and trauma. A trauma counselling centre has been set up at the Knysna Library. Environmental management Among the reasons that the fire was so devastating was because of the drought, shortage of water, and proliferation of alien vegetation, particularly wattle and eucalyptus. Fires generally result in an increased growth spurt of these invasive species, laying the seeds for an even more devastating fire in the future, and programmes must be put in place to continuously remove and limit the new growth of alien vegetation, and the hillsides and dunes laid bare need to be rehabilitated urgently. Should there be heavy rainfall, mudslides may occur, and consequent silting can damage the Knysna River Estuary and the lagoon with long-term effects. Business support Many unique small and medium-sized businesses have been devastated by the fires, particularly timber mills and furniture factories that made a name using indigenous woods. The fund will be utilised to provide support to assist small businesses to restart, or new ventures to come into being, thereby providing the means to regenerate business opportunities and tourism. Housing A geotechnical study of the informal settlement area affected by the fire found the site safe for building. It is envisaged that in addition to rebuilding homes on the site, proper services will be established. The municipality is in the process of assessing all homes lost, to establish the full extent of the damage. Employment The fund needs to focus on local employment and using, as far as possible, local skills of builders, plumbers, electricians, suppliers, professional skills and expertise. We will seize the opportunity to upgrade local skills and to grow industrial and artisan expertise in our town. "Around 2 500 jobs have been affected and in Knysna's rebuild effort, we want local residents to benefit from the jobs created. In the short term, we need clean-up jobs, and in the long term, we need the full range of artisans including plumbers, electricians, builders and bricklayers. We are working across all spheres of government on a plan to upskill our people to take up new opportunities. "Knysna will rise, and we will rise stronger than ever before."

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