The week of rain and fire

This week has been murder for the Cape Province. Battered by one of the biggest storms we have had in 30 years, and still reeling from the aftershock, only to be catapulted into the flaming disaster in Knysna. Most of us have had the protection of our warm and safe homes. But many have suffered great damage and loss in this week. The hastags #CapeStorm and #Knysnafires are still trending and much work lays ahead for many to find their feet again.

As I sit here typing and occasionally stopping to clench my hands because my fingers are freezing, I am incredibly grateful for what I have that makes my life comfortable and liveable. My fingers are numb, but the rest of me is undeniably warm and immune to the weather conditions outside. This week I really thought about how terrible it must be to be homeless in weather conditions like this. I pass the beleaguered figures at the traffic lights day in and day out, some of them young who should be in school, and others old, the age of my parents with barely enough strength to stand up straight. I used to be quite unsympathetic, blaming most of these cases on the bottle, but as I get older, life and experience has softened my view and afforded me empathy and perspective. Not everyone is where they are because they chose it.

Cape StormImage Source: Facebook

In the Northern suburbs while we huddled under our blankets listening to the storm rage outside on Wednesday night, we were actually spared the worst of it. The places hit hardest were mostly the Southern suburbs where 24 schools and 847 informal homes were damaged. At least 2500 people were offered humanitarian aid and 5 lives were lost.

Knysna FiresImage Source: Facebook

And then while we were still catching our breath, Knysna was hit with the extreme opposite as raging fires claimed another five lives and gutted homes, businesses, a school and several cars. Whole communities’ homes were wiped out and many people fled with nothing but what they could carry in their arms. The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre described the fires engulfing Knysna and surrounds as one of the most destructive blazes in recent memory. Up to 20 suburbs were hit and more than 10 000 people were evacuated by late Thursday. Even the hospital was engulfed in the flames. Reading the comments on social media of people leaving the town and trying to find loved ones was simply heartbreaking.

So my post today is dedicated to how we can help. What small thing can we do to make a difference to the plight of our fellow South Africans who for the most part must still be shell shocked after the week that passed.

Here is a list of things you can do today and long after the storm has passed, to help your fellow man! These tips were taken from Goodthingsguy.com

  • Donate warm clothing and blankets to your local shelter for the homeless
  • Donate warm blankets, food, old dog or cat beds and kennels to animal rescue centres and shelters.
  • Cook a warm pot of soup and hand it out to people less fortunate.
  • Pay for a bed at a homeless shelter so someone can stay warm for the night.
  • If you spot a person without shelter call 107 or  0800 87 22 01, as per Love Cape Town
  • Donate old furniture and building materials so that those that have lost their homes can rebuild after the devastation
  • Help neighbours secure items
  • Take lost animals to local vets or shelters, or keep them safe in your own home.

This is a list of non-profits working with the Disaster Management teams to offer help wherever possible!

Here is a list of community-based non-government, non-profit’s and other organisations working within communities.

  • Check with your local Round Table organisations, most collect food and blankets for the area.
  • Thula Thula Hout Bay is collecting relief items for the Imizama Yethu community, see more here

There is also a few crowdfunding platforms that have been created to assist those in need.

There is a Facebook Page that has been set up for information and also a safety check-in that has been created for anyone who is looking for loved ones. Click here to access it.

Do your little bit of good where you are;
it’s those little bits of good put together
that overwhelm the world.
– Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu



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