Knysna 'open for business', despite flare-ups, damage

2017-06-12 14:03
The burnt-out wreckage of a taxi in a Knysna informal settlement. (James de Villiers, News24)

The burnt-out wreckage of a taxi in a Knysna informal settlement. (James de Villiers, News24)

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Cape Town - The Garden Route town of Knysna was "open for business" on Monday, as teams continued to tackle flare-ups and work on power and water supplies.

Richard Meyer, of Knysna Disaster Management, said they were focusing fire-fighting efforts on Concordia and the area toward Sedgefield.

Another team was dealing with flare-ups in different areas.

"Knysna is still open for business. We are trying our best to get everything back to normal, except for houses that will still take a while to be rebuilt."

Officials first needed to assess the damage and plot a way forward.

READ: #KnysnaFires claim seventh life

Knysna municipality spokesperson Fran Kirsten urged residents to stop clogging the phone lines with non-urgent enquiries.

She gave assurance that they were working on infrastructure.

"We know the places don't have water; they don't have power. Eskom and Telkom are in town. We need the lines open for an emergency, should the fires flare."

The fires that started almost a week ago ran rampant through the town of 77 000 people. The fire was propelled by strong winds from a storm that ravaged the Cape Town area last Wednesday, June 7.

Plettenberg Bay residents were also affected.

The death count from the fires stood at seven on Monday, following the death of a woman who succumbed to burn wounds on Saturday night.

According to the provincial education department, the Knysna High School's hostel was badly burnt in the fire.

Damaged schools

A total of 143 schools across Cape Town were damaged by the storms, said Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schafer.

"Contingency plans are being put in place for the two schools that are not able operate fully. It is too early to provide a timelines or an estimated cost of damages at this stage," she said.

Their inspectors had already visited the worst hit schools.

"Schools need to be made operational as soon as possible, which means that we will have to prioritise damages that affect the core functioning of the school, such as damage to classrooms, ablutions and administration blocks."

Minor damages would be fixed as soon as possible, while major repairs would take longer.

Shelver said the districts were working closely with schools to establish the best route forward.

A catch-up programme would be developed once alternative accommodation had been found. Teachers were reporting to school as normal.

"We deeply appreciate the understanding of parents, principals and teachers, and their willingness to work with our officials in meeting these challenges positively."

Read more on:    cape town  |  knysna fires  |  fires  |  education

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