Bereft. Table Mountain and surrounding areas in flames, large parts of the University of Cape Town and Rhodes Memorial and Mostert’s Mill burned to the ground. All students were evacuated and there are no fatalities, although four firefighters had to be hospitalised. The air was already thick with smoke by 11h00 yesterday morning over the entire southern suburbs. I never expected to experience grief at the loss of buildings, but as a student at UCT for over six years and a member of staff for five, I find myself in tears.
Cape Town’s firefighters are incredible, by the way, and, while many people have exhorted those to pray to whomever they choose to believe is in control of things for the fire to stop, I didn’t see anyone resembling god or Jesus or Mohammed or whoever on the back of a fire engine rushing to the scene to help.
One way of looking at the impending crisis of a waterless Cape Town is that we are certainly getting a crash course in disaster management. I am enormously impressed with the City of Cape Town’s media release** yesterday, about how things can be managed for the best, who is ready and able to get involved (eg. retailers, traffic police, etc) and what each of us can do to avoid Day Zero altogether. It’s most likely that none of the people now involved in crisis management were responsible for allowing this major f%#k-up to happen in the first place, so their efforts are especially laudable.
** In case anyone is interested in reading it, here’s a link to the release: CITY OF CAPE TOWN
Realistically, many people will not sufficiently reduce their water consumption and it’s a matter of a few more weeks before the taps run dry. We will then each be allowed to take 25 litres of water a day from one of the city’s 200 wellpoints. It won’t be nice, but we won’t die.
I saw this post from an American citizen on a friend’s facebook page this morning, and it struck me how spot-on he is about this being a wake-up call for the whole world – we must never ever take any natural resource for granted again.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing my beloved city’s problem here. I believe the issue has made the news around the world so I thought some of you would be interested.