AN outpouring of compassion in community-led flood relief efforts over the past two weeks has seen food, blankets and clothing distributed to hundreds of people, with plans in progress for restoration and rebuilding of homes in the long-term.
Among the innovative flood relief fundraisers last weekend was a “Come hell or high water” party by Craig Dickie aka DJ Dickstar, who was celebrating his birthday. Dickie deejayed for free at Barmuda and encouraged people to bring an item of food in lieu of a cover charge or birthday present.
Another local DJ, Tinklah Ngqobo, collaborated with his friend Siganeko Booi to host a fundraiser at the Nemato taxi rank last Saturday, playing music and arranging other entertainment while collecting donations for flood victims.
PITCHING IN: Round Table/Talk of the Town Miss Port Alfred Kaelene Steyn helped pack food and clothing for flood victims at the Port Alfred Baptist Church last week. With her are (from left) Les Wiseman, Dudley Emslie, Ross Pilkington, Dallas Ehrke, Alix Lee, Brett Taylor, Rob Bessenger and Jason Currie Picture: JON HOUZET
The largest coordinated relief effort to emerge after the flood is the Port Alfred Networked Disaster Relief (PANDR) organisation, which started when several local organisations and businesses decided to pool their resources.
The Port Alfred Baptist Church has provided the coordinating structure of PANDR, and other members are the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, SuperSpar, BUCO, Furnmark, Stop Hunger Now, MultiSecurity, the Port Alfred Soup Kitchen, NSRI, Kay-Jay’s Brick Centre and Ndlambe municipality.
“Each of us is bringing different things to the party,” said Baptist Church pastor Jason Currie.
“BUCO for example has provided squeegees to help mop up water in the clinic and police station; when we needed to help a woman move, Furnmark provided a vehicle to help move what they could; MultiSecurity has helped with their communication network, the NSRI used their vehicle to take stuff to areas normal vehicles can’t get to.”
The Baptist Church became the hub for receiving, processing and distributing donated items, including food parcels, clothing, blankets and mattresses.
“We didn’t want to give stuff willy-nilly, we said let’s respond to needs,” said Currie.
He said the municipality’s official figures for those most affected by the flooding is 100 people being provided shelter at the Kenton community hall and 100 people in Nemato.
“We said there’s definitely more,” said Currie, so PANDR volunteers went door to door to assess needs.
“Some people who went up in a helicopter identified New Rest (north of Nemato) as the area of greatest need, which matched our assessment,” he said.
“By Sunday we emptied the church hall of all the stuff we had collected.”
Currie said PANDR had concluded its relief efforts in New Rest and next went into Bushman’s River, and put out trolleys for collection there.
“We spread further afield because we are the biggest hub,” he explained.
“Unless something big comes out of Bushman’s we’ll pull out of there. Otherwise it stops being relief and becomes an ongoing hand-out.”
We wanted to match need to aid. Now we’ll need their help, their efforts.
Parallel to distributing food and clothing, PANDR volunteers also embarked on clean-up projects at the hospital clinic, the Port Alfred police station and Kelly’s Beach.
Currie said they were also planning to get bags of cement and roof sheeting to fix houses in New Rest, but the municipality said temporary housing was on the way.
PANDR is currently focusing on the flood-ravaged Medolino Caravan Park.
“We are looking at who lived there and where are they now, who had insurance and who didn’t, and what their shortfalls are,” said Currie.
PANDR is trying to find furniture for those who didn’t have insurance.
“As the water subsides, we’re looking at people with connections to see what can be done in the long-term to fix Medolino – from people with spades to tipper trucks,” said Currie.
“We’ve spoken to Sandy Birch from tourism about the impact on tourism from losing a venue like Medolino, rather than saying let the municipality fix it.”
Anyone who wants to join PANDR’s efforts can call 082-897-2934.