The Film Fund assists Knysna

Film Fund assists Knysna after devistating fires

Doug Emauel, president of the Knysna Rotary Club accepts a cheque of R50 000,00 from the Film Industry Fund in aid of their Fire relief efforts.

On 7th June 2017, wildfires, fanned by gale force winds, spread around the Garden Route, affecting an area from Sedgefield to Plettenberg Bay, including the town of Knysna. Knysna, in particular, was severely impacted with fires raging through many formal and informal suburbs. Few suburbs were spared, although many individual homes within each suburb were indeed spared.

Estimates indicate that hundreds of buildings have been burned to the ground (most of them individual homes), in both the formal and informal suburbs. Over 8000 individuals are homeless as a result of the fires. The demise of our wildlife must be immense.

Whilst most of the fires had been brought under control by Friday 9th June, high winds on Saturday 10th June caused many fires to reignite, especially on the western side of town. Brenton and Buffalo Bay areas were in the way of the flames and were evacuated. Sadly, many homes were burned down in Brenton too. In Knysna itself, many residents, including all the patients from the Epilepsy Centre were evacuated for the second time.

Fires also flared up in Port Elizabeth, Sedgefield and in Plettenberg Bay. The Plett airport was affected and closed for a while.

By Sunday 11th June, the wind had died down and firefighters, including airborne units, were attending to the last of the fires. Most, if not all, were either extinguished or under control.

Donations ranging from blankets, food, clothing, other hard goods and cash are being received by various organisations, almost on a daily basis. Being mid-winter, blankets, bedding and mattresses were a priority.  Short term humanitarian aid has been phenomenal and there is plenty to go around.

Rotary manpower, amongst other assistance, was used at distribution points and the Rotary Club of Knysna has set up a Fire Relief subcommittee and an associated fund, to manage and finance specific needs as they are identified. The Club has a representative who attends the municipal disaster management meetings and it is these meetings which guide the Rotary Sub Committee decision making. Present Rotary focus is on funding building materials to assist reconstruction of dwellings in informal settlements. Kits, containing all materials for easy erection of small houses, are a particular focus at present but not yet approved. Other needs will be identified and addressed as the relief efforts proceed.

Over 400 middle and upper class houses were destroyed as well as about 150 informal dwellings. The middle and upper class families are staying temporarily with friends or family so they are not in immediate need of feeding, clothing or shelters.  There are numerous local support groups helping the poorer community.

The real problems are yet to come. Homeless families, who have lost everything, need to restart their lives. We are receiving messages daily from people who typically have no insurance cover. The problem will become one of money. We have set up a disaster relief fund which is receiving contributions for Rotary Clubs around the country and overseas, other organisations and numerous individuals. – Details courtesy of the Knysna Rotary Club

Knysna and surrounds has been used for many years by our industry due to it’s picturesque scenery, it only seemed fitting that our Industry contributes to rebuilding this community through the Film Fund – Rudi Riek.