ESKOM and Red Cross have partnered with Kouga Municipality to help strengthen communities at Longmore and Thornhill against natural disasters.Representatives from Eskom visited the municipality on Tuesday to hand over a cheque of R350 000 to the Red Cross for use in areas affected by the fire disaster of June 2017. At the hand-over Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said the focus would be on Longmore, where more than 200 residents had to be evacuated when the runaway fire threatened their homes, and the surrounding farm areas. The fire destroyed about 27 000 ha of vegetation in the Longmore and Thornhill areas, as well as farm land, buildings and equipment.“Kouga fire-fighters were able to save the Longmore Village from burning down, but the community was left without electricity or water because of fire damage to the infrastructure,” Van Lingen said.“We had to act fast to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Water was trucked in, a generator and portable toilets were installed, and hot meals were delivered to the village with the assistance of community volunteers and NGOs.” Red Cross branch manager in Port Elizabeth and the Sarah Baartman district, Coralie Peo-Swartz, said the Eskom donation would be used to equip and train affected communities on how to prevent and survive disaster situations.“The programme marks the start of an official relationship between the Red Cross and municipality. We are grateful to Eskom for the financial assistance,” she said.Mayor Van Lingen emphasised the role partnerships play in building strong governance structures and communities.“We are humbled by what’s happening here today. We have been strengthening our partnership with Eskom over the past year and are now reaping the benefit of their partnership with the Red Cross,” she said.“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from all corners of South Africa during the crisis and are grateful for the ongoing assistance in helping our people recover from the terrible ordeal they suffered.”Jongi Dyabaza, stakeholder coordinator at Eskom, said the parastatal was grateful that it could help Kouga through its partnership with the Red Cross.“Eskom takes its social responsibility towards communities seriously and we are glad that we could be there for Kouga’s people in a time of trouble,” he said.