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The flood, February 2000

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richardharris
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The flood, February 2000

Unread post by richardharris » Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:52 am

No idea where to mention these photos, so this forum seems as good as any!

Thought some of you might like to see these taken in mid to late February when the flood was at its peak.
Did not see much game (!) but I am glad to have been there.

Sorry - the quality is not good. Taken with the 'still' facility on a Sony Camcorder.

Richard

http://www.pbase.com/richardharris/flood

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arks
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Unread post by arks » Mon Sep 05, 2005 3:42 am

Thanks for the flood pix. I was there in July 2000 and there was still much evidence of the power of the flood, especially the deeply bent rails on the Letaba bridge, so it is interesting to see how that was caused. Fascinating pix.

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Unread post by atlanta rob » Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:57 pm

I remember about 2 months after the flood, I did the Napi Trail walk.
The ground was still soaked, at places up to a few mm's of water.
The river the Napi trail camp borders on was still flowing pretty strong, I know I did post some pics showing my trail experience.
After that walk, we pretty much threw our hiking boots/shoes away as the they had been exposed to 3 days of constant water.
I remember driving from Skukuza along the river and the devastation was incredible.
We spent a few hours in Skukuza and one of the staff showed us where the water had risen up too, it was scary.
The railing on the bridge had been buckled like cheap pieces of wire, quite amazing to see the power and destruction of water

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Stephen
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Unread post by Stephen » Wed May 17, 2006 4:38 pm

:D
The day the Bridge broke (Chapter 1)

We were living at Crocodile Bridge Restcamp in the Kruger Park – Elmarie (my wife) and Tarina (my daughter about to turn two) and of course me. It was early February, summer in the Kruger National Park and supposedly to be very hot. It has been raining for the last two weeks – on and off, but more on than off. Everything was wet, everything was damp, and there was mould on the car’s seatbelts. I have never experienced something like this.

The low-water causeway across the Crocodile River, the route out of the Park, has been flooded for some time. My wife, working in Komatipoort outside the Park, and other staff members were making use of the old Train Bridge (dating back to 1896) to get to and from Komatipoort. The bridge was no longer in use by the railways (the last train passed over the bridge in 1973), and the walkways has been rusted severely, caution was needed when crossing.

On the morning of February 7th 2000 the water in the Crocodile River was about four meters up from the causeway. I walked my wife across the bridge and she was picked up by her colleagues from work. I returned to work, and also had my daughter to look after. She wass an angel (still is), so it did not present any problem.

The water kept on rising, and during the course of the morning word started coming through that all sorts of flooding was experienced in places. The Sabie River and Skukuza was particularly badly hit by the rising water. The water in the Crocodile also rose dramatically and by noon it reached a turning point and started to subside slightly. It came to within six meters of the camp fence. At that stage we were anticipating taking all the furniture and utensils out of the river facing huts. However due to a lack of storage space and the subsequent subsiding of the water we decided against it. I went back to the office and asked one of the Supervisors to keep and eye on the river.

I listened to the two-way radio in the office – telephones were long gone – and heard the ranger from Malelane. I asked him how things were progressing on his side. He enlightened me on the fact that the water was lapping over the high-level bridge at Malelane Gate. I asked him if he was joking. He just said: “Julle moet sterk staan” (You’ll have to stand strong).
:shock:
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for Freda..oldie pics of floods/2000 and railroad bridge?

Unread post by Elaine/USA » Thu May 18, 2006 6:45 pm

Image

Freda, is this the railroad bridge you referred to in a post in another topic?

I have quite a few pictures taken during the floods of 2000 at their height.
Including Skukuza , Croc Bridge, etc.

They were sent to me by Friedrich R., at the time a Project Manager for KNP.
As I recall he was Project Mgr. for Orpen and Satara cams way back then??
Pics were taken by a friend of his, whose name Friedrich didn't
mention. (But maybe he is out there in cyberspace viewing this pic?)

Elaine

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Jose
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Unread post by Jose » Thu May 18, 2006 7:27 pm

But please note that a lot of photos, including the one posted above, have been published by Sanparks on this site and can be found here (pdf-file).

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Unread post by Jose » Thu May 18, 2006 7:58 pm

When Stephen brought up the topic again last night, I did some searching and found more info and photos taken by KNP employees in the Media Releases Archive 2000. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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Unread post by Stephen » Tue May 23, 2006 8:50 am

:D The day the Bridge broke (Chapter 2)

It was about the same time that our supervisor came running into the office – eyes wide :shock: – the water was in the camp. By then we had vacated the guests to units away from the river side and moved our staff out of their rooms close to the river into the camp. All that was left was to try and safe what we could from the front units. We managed to get all the tables, chairs and fridges out of the huts in a record time. By then the water was lapping on the first verandas. We could only stand and watch. In a period of 30 minutes the water level rose by at least three meters. It was mind boggling to see the waves in the river – easily 5 meters high. The train bridge – normally standing 19 meters above the water - was just about under water.

The rain was still coming down – we all stood there soaking wet looking at the spectacle unfolding in front of our eyes. There was nothing more that we could do, except watch and wait. While we were al running around taking care of the camp and guests, Tarina was looked after by the manager’s mother-in-law.

One of the guests came to me and asked when last I have spoken to my wife – who was on the other side of the river. “Well, I haven’t spoken with her since the morning” – I replied – no telephones working and we were between cell phones for one or other reason. She gave a cell phone and ordered me to phone who ever I needed to. It was so amazing to see that difficult times brought out the best in people 8) . I got hold of Elmarie and she asked me if it was ok for her to come home. Well, no, it was not – the train bridge was nearly submerged completely and in danger of collapsing at any moment. I was not about to take the chance of my wife walking across. Elmarie was stuck in Komatipoort with only one set of clothes, no toothbrush and no accommodation. Luckily one of the ladies working with her helped her with lodging and she could at least go and buy the necessary things at the shops. What worried her most was not being there to look after Tarina.

Next on our agenda was to save water :? – can you imagine? We had about 60,000 litres of water in the tanks and no way to refill it again. The pump room in the river bed has been submerged and all the electrics must have blown. By then the electricity supply was gone as well – the lines got washed away – we were running on a standby generator. What else could go wrong? A group of guests from Czechoslovakia were missing :shock: . They were camping at Croc Bridge and went for a drive the morning. They were not back in camp yet and it was getting dark. I went over to the office and heard on the radio that the guest we were looking for have been airlifted off the Lower Sabie – Skukuza tar road. They were going to spend the night in Skukuza. That was a relieve and at last the water in the river stabilised.

Suddenly we heard a very load grinding bang… At first we were not sure, then we started to eliminate what it could be – we ended up realising that the hundred year old train bridge across the Crocodile River must have met his fate. It was too dark to see properly and the real extend of the damage was only visible in the morning – but there was still a long unsure night ahead.

To be continued…
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Unread post by Stephen » Wed May 24, 2006 3:26 pm

:D The day the Bridge broke (Chapter 3)

With all the staff inside the Restcamp, all the guests away from the river side and the river starting to subside one could at least start to relax, or could one :? . Remembering the sudden wall of water that came back the afternoon made for an interesting evening ahead. Guests and staff alike were asked to work sparingly with the available clean water as we were unsure how long the water in the tanks needed to last us. Bathing the evening was rather precarious – a lot of splashing to get water all over the body. The river was checked on an hourly basis and it was not until about 02:00 that I was satisfied that the river was not going to come back. It was back were it belonged – in the riverbed - and would hopefully stay there. Tarina was fast asleep during the night and never even realised I left her alone every hour for 5 minutes to go and check the river.

Waking up the next morning at 05:00 was like waking up in a different world. The noise of the river and water rushing was quiet :o . The rain had stopped and the sun even peaked through the clouds from time to time. I took Tarina and my video camera and started my rounds to determine the scale of devastation. There was plenty of that. :shock:

The camp was amazingly well spared. The water made it onto the verandas of the river facing units. It did not damage the inside of the units at all. The camp fence was still standing, although covered in debris. The riverbed was a wide open landscape still full of water. The low level causeway was still well under water and no where to be seen. Our pump room was level with the ground – only the pumps still in place – none of the electrical boxes close to working order anymore. The first water reservoir was full of brown mucky water.

What was the most striking of all the damage around was the train bridge. Under the all the pressure of debris building up at the top, one of the giant sandstone pillars was pushed over taking with it two spans of the iron structure. Many tons in weight, the iron spans were washed down river 50 and 250 meters respectively – one got dumped on the opposite bank. A hundred years of water passed safely underneath this bridge. It took the flood of 7 February 2000 to change the appearance of the Crocodile River and the Crocodile River Train Bridge for ever. The river banks would recover, but the bridge was shattered on that day – The day the Bridge broke.

Some more information:

• Cyclone Eleen left a scar of flood damage across the northern section two weeks later.
• That left only the centre section of the Park in operation.
• Crocodile Bridge was supplied with water through a water tanker for a number of days - coming from Skukuza.
• Elmarie hitched a ride back home with a helicopter flying new power lines across the Crocodile River on 11 February 2000 8) .
• We spent Valentine’s Day and Tarina’s birthday together on 14 February 2000 8) 8) :D .
• To get Elmarie back to work we had to drive 210 km via Skukuza and Malelane to cover the 10 km between Crocodile Bridge and Komatipoort. (No helicopter this time :roll: ).
• I was asked to go and relieve at Mopani for two weeks and had to drive via Nelspruit and Phalaborwa to get to Mopani.
• After cyclone Eleen I returned to Crocodile Bridge via Punda Maria, Gyani, Tzaneen, Sabie, Nelspruit, Malelane and Skukuza as there were no direct routes between the North and the South of the Park inside the Park.
• The ranger at Croc Bridge organised a small boat with an outboard motor to get staff (and Elmarie) across the Crocodile River twice a week 8) .
• The low water causeway was temporary repaired and re-opened on 12 May 2000.
Stephen Nel

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Unread post by mafortini » Wed Jun 07, 2006 5:38 pm

I happened to be in the Park that weekend too. These photos were taken at the HIGH water bridge near Skukuza (from the Satara side)

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This last one was taken from the same spot about a month later. You can clearly see the damage caused to the railings.

It's a credit to the bridge builders that it was still there!

ImageLarge
Last edited by Elsa on Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Resized Pics.

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Unread post by mafortini » Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:27 pm

My 20-year old son, Bradley, spent a rather uncomfortable night stranded in the Park during the floods.

He was staying at Orpen at the time and he and his girlfriend had gone to Skukuza to get some cash and they were on their return to camp when they got stuck in a drift on one of the sand roads just north of Tshokwane.

At this stage the water was only up to the car's axles and he wasn’t unduly worried but, unable to move the car, the water soon rose, flooding the car.
He managed to find some rocks nearby and propped them against the wheels to prevent the car from being washed off the road.

By this time it was starting to get dark and rather than venture off for help, wisely opted for the safety of the car.
The water rose steadily and got to about 6 inches from the roof so they clambered out through the windows and sat on the roof.

To make matters worse, it started to rain and they were really cold, so they got back into the flooded car (where it was warmer?) and they sat on a cooler-box on the back seat with just their heads above water.

By this stage my other son, still at Orpen, was going frantic with worry because the gates had closed and they hadn’t yet returned to camp.
He alerted the camp staff but because it was dark and most of the roads were impassable, there was little that they could do.
Besides, they didn’t really know where to even start looking.

After a rather unforgettable night, Bradley and his girlfriend were rescued by some other tourists in a 4x4 who had managed to get through.
They kindly gave them a hot drink and some food and wrapped them up warmly and took them to Satara where my other son was mightily relieved to see them.

Bradley’s car was left where it was in the bush for many weeks as nobody was able to recover it.
When it was eventually towed out the insurance company wrote it off as the inside was full of mud and sand and was totally ruined.

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Unread post by don » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:44 pm

Incredible story mafortini. Thank goodness it had a happy ending.

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Unread post by arks » Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:48 pm

Toddelelfe wrote:But when i went in September 2000 to KNP, i never noticed the damage, only at 1 or 2 points were lots of broken trees.

Strange that you noticed no flood damage in Sept 2000. I was in the park in July/August 2000 and there was still plenty of evidence of the power of the flood.
For example,

- The first 2-3 rows of bungalows closest to the river at Skukuza were roped off and uninhabitable, the old restaurant was also closed and later replaced.
- Most of the roads around Lower Sabie were still closed, as was to S3.
Other road closings were posted at all the camps I visited over two weeks.
- Shimuwini was still closed, as was the low water bridge over the Letaba River on the H14
- the railings of the high water bridge over the Letaba on the tar road were impressively bent and broken and there was still a massive amount of flood debris in all the rivers
- the road to Crooks Corner was closed

I was impressed both by how much had been repaired AND by how much damage was still evident 5 months after the floods.
Gives you a very healthy respect for the power of nature.
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Unread post by sable » Sun Sep 24, 2006 8:38 pm

We visited KNP late February 2000 when there were the floods. My picture of the view from Olifants outlook shows the same scene as your picture, richardharris.
Didn't head for the Southern part of the park as it was mentioned in the SANParks news there were still flood problems. We changed a booking from one night in Pkop to an additional night in Satara.
The Satara area looked like paradise.
Zebras enjoying the green ...
Image
... a lazy hyena ... ready to hide when the next rain starts ...:wink:
Image
and an ellie guard blocking the road to get the youngsters cross in safety.
Image
You can be glad not to hear the sound with this picture ... loud trumpets warning everybody to come closer.

Sorry for the poor quality. These pictures are from the time before I went digital ... these are pictures of pictures ...
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Bontebok for Beginners, Tsitsikamma - Bridges and Electric Wheels, ADDO-rable Elephants,
Horns And Stripes - A Day in MZNP, Up in the Air - Camdeboo Impressions,
Table With A View, West Coast Adventures

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Unread post by Wild-doc » Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:10 am

The Olifants was already flowing strongly on the 12 and 13th of Jan.
On the 12th we went on a night drive from Olifants and crossed the Balule bridge on the way back.
The next morning we went out at about 4:30 and when we got to the Balule bridge it was still wet from the overflowing water and the water was lapping at the top of the bridge.
We stopped on it had coffee and rusks and drove on.
A couple of hours later on our return the bridge was closed with water flowing freely over the bridge.
We spent the rest of the day on the deck at Nshawu looking at the river flowing very strongly.
This was before all the rain from the last week.
I think flooding is very possible at this stage.


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