Help community rebuild after storm

2017-06-13 06:01
A dog wanders among the rubble of some of the roofs that were blown off during the storm last week.

A dog wanders among the rubble of some of the roofs that were blown off during the storm last week.

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While last week’s stormy weather brought some relief to the drought, it played havoc at informal settlements in the area.

In Ottery residents at the Freedom Park informal settlement in Woodlands Road had a bad time when the storm struck, but local resident Keith Blake has plans to help them recover from some of the destruction. He was shocked to see that the roofs of many shacks were blown off and a massive tree was partially uprooted and hanging over other shacks.

“What was worse is that electric cables were attached to the half uprooted tree and this was very dangerous. There are also people who lost their belongings and now need some more clothing and blankets and we also need to help with food that was destroyed in the bad weather. I also want to try and help to get some donations of good second-hand furniture and cooking utensils. During the winter I also try to help out with a soup kitchen so donations for ingredients will be welcomed.”

Blake adds that while there were many who frowned upon his dealings with residents from the informal settlement, he could not turn his back on them.

“As a man who believes in God’s love for all how can I turn my back on them?” he says.

Blake explains that he grew up in the area where his father owned a smallholding in Percy Road.

“There were still lots of farms in the area those years and when I bought my house in 1981 my hobby was horse riding in the surrounding fields,” he says.

“During one of my rides I encountered the first squatter and his family. A man called ‘Duimpie’ who was living under plastics and Port Jackson branches in the bushes. Soon more families joined them because they were being put off farms in the area and had nowhere to go. You could believe Duimpie’s story of working on the farms because he used to do gardening for many of us and was very good at it. What is now the Freedom Park settlement was originally behind the traffic department near Strandfontein Road, but then the city arranged for it to be moved to its present location. “I always tell people to think before they make disparaging remarks. Hopefully when they know the history they will change their mind.” V Call Blake on 073 877 6207.

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