Help for Imizamo Yethu fire victims praised

2017-03-14 19:46
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PICS: The frontlines of the Hout Bay fire

Over 2 000 people were left homeless after a fire destroyed at least 650 homes in Mandela Park informal settlement and surrounds in Hout Bay, Cape Town on Saturday. View the gallery here.

Cape Town - The Department of Social Development in the Western Cape has paid tribute to everyone who is helping the fire victims of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay get back on their feet.

"The scale of the disaster is arguably one of the worst experienced in Cape Town," said department spokesperson Sihle Ngobese of the fire that destroyed at least 3 500 homes, leaving around 15 000 people homeless.

"We must give thanks to the public who have literally come out in their numbers. And the Hout Bay community," said Ngobese as disaster relief efforts continued in the stricken settlement which burnt down on Sunday.

People have descended on the area to bring food, blankets and toiletries to complement the efforts of the NGOs appointed by the Western Cape government that sprang into action on Sunday.

Thula Thula, Gift of the Givers, the Red Cross, Mustadafin Foundation and Historically Disadvantaged Individuals have already organised and provided tents, blankets, food, toiletries and mattresses.

While the city's solid waste department clears the remains of the residents' homes, tents have been erected to house their belongings, and to shelter them while the city prepares for the delivery of reconstruction materials.

Community halls are also being used to accommodate those who have been left homeless.

READ: Rehabilitation underway after devastating Hout Bay blaze

Donations needed

Ngobese said the city was co-ordinating disaster risk management and the province was co-ordinating the relief efforts, with the help of NGOs.

MECs and government ministers, including Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, have already visited the site for assessments.

In the meantime, the affected residents still need hygiene products including toothpaste, toothbrushes and sanitary towels and non-perishable food.

He asked people not to forget the residents' pets. The animals are being cared for by the Domestic Animal Rescue Group, which Ngobese said needed dog and cat food.

Four sites have been set up for donations: The Hout Bay Fire Station, the local police station and Pick 'n Pay and the Hout Bay International School.

He paid tribute to Pick 'n Pay for being "amazing".

Trauma specialists and counsellors have held a "resilience session" to keep residents' spirits up and to provide a platform for people to share information about where they can find the items they need.

The city is also trying to set up a supervised children's play area so that their parents and carers don't have to worry about standing in queues to register for the various forms of help on offer.

The SA Social Security Agency has also been assisting people with registration for grants associated with disasters, which includes funds for school uniform for children whose school clothes went up in flames.

In the meantime, the children have been attending school in clothes that are not school attire.

"This underpins the resilience of the community," said Ngobese.

The massive administrative task of registering people is one of the city's top priorities in ensuring that very vulnerable people, such as the disabled and children, get help as quickly as possible.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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