January 18, 2012

UPDATE: Latest from a rain soaked Karongwe Camp (18 January)

Not even EcoTraining could escape the effects of the massive amount of water plummeting from above in the last 24 hours in the greater Hoedspruit area. Both our camps in Karongwe and Selati were hard hit. This is the latest update from Olga, our camp coordinator-turned-rescuer at Karongwe. Photos of the scene will follow:

“This morning Dale (lead instructor) and I were called out of bed by the ladies (cooking and cleaning staff) as their tent was about to be washed away. We quickly dressed and ran down to the communal area, where the water was already knee high with chairs sloshing around.

The students were all up and running around to save their belongings from their tents, while in the meantime trying to rescue the items that were being taken by the river. I had a quick look down the dining deck and saw that the drink list, with pen was still there. I waded through the water and grabbed it from the table tennis table to take it high and dry.

In the meantime the water level was rising fast. Chairs that were put on the old fireplace were not safe anymore, so taken higher up as well. The water level in combination with the force, now made even the drink fridge and cupboard float. Help! Dale and I quickly ran up, disconnected the gas bottle from the fridge and together with Volma and Lynneth (staff) managed somehow to get the fridge, still full with drinks, up the stairs.

Gas bottles and jerry cans started to wobble; chairs and crates were floating past, sometimes ducking under water so you would hurt your legs while wading across. The vehicles and generator were brought to safety, so there was space to move the fuel drums and gas bottles. This was easier said than done. These things are extremely heavy! While busy trying to move one, of course all the others, at the same time, started to tumble. Though heavy, they were not able to resist the strong force of the water anymore.

Everybody now helped wherever they could; dragging gas bottles, rolling drums, and helping Volma and Lynneth save their tent and belongings. Unfortunately, we had to see a gas bottle and some jerry cans float away. Well, I guess we will find some interesting things on our next walk down the river 

When most of the items were rescued, the river miraculously decided it was time to go down. Half an hour later the camp’s landscape looked like a sodic site. We entered the kitchen and there was a slight smell of fuel. Apparently one of the oil drums that tumbled had leaked. While the women started to fetch brooms and cloths to clean the kitchen, the men put the gas bottles back in place.

By 11:00 most of the water mess and damage was cleaned up and hungry tummies needed to be filled. Never did a breakfast feel so well deserved!”

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