(picture from www.geelhoutvlei.co.za)
While the flames have mostly subsided and mop up operations continue, the tragic reality of the fires in the Garden Route is hitting home. The community in Farleigh mourns alongside the family of the two adults and six children who died in the blaze. Everyone is battling to come to terms with the heartbreak of this loss.
Those whose homes were burned are faced with starting all over again, thankfully with the assistance of the charitable groups and businesses who are stepping up to help.
According to maps provided by SANParks the total burn scar in the Garden Route was 104 500 hectares, 75 400 of which was in the Wilderness and Knysna areas.
After the tragic loss of life, surely the biggest long-term impact of the fires that will be felt for many years to come is the loss of jobs for those living in the poorer communities.
The Monday 29 October total destruction by fire of Dave Metelerkamp’s Geelhoutvlei sawmill, farm and homestead is by far the biggest and most widely impacting example of this.
With over four hundred employees and thus thousands of dependants, 90% of whom come from very poor communities, recovery from this loss will be close to impossible.
Whilst the Metelerkamp family is grateful that their workforce managed to escape with no major physical harm, they are understandably devastated by the desperate outlook for the future of each and every employee.
In an attempt to provide assistance for them the Metelerkamps have set up the Geelhoutvlei Disaster Relief campaign with an office established at Suite 8, Plum Tree Trading Post (Corner of Duiwe Avenue and Main Street, Sedgefield).
They have also met with Gift of the Givers, and engaged with the Premier of the Western Cape.
Should anyone wish to assist financially they may use the following Gift of the Givers
bank account :
Standard Bank Pietermaritzburg Branch
Account Number: 052137228
Branch Code: 057525
Reference: Geelhoutvlei Timbers Disaster Relief
“More than anything else, our employees need employment. We have wonderful, disciplined and hardworking staff looking for placement. Please contact 063 251 5465 to discuss individual skill sets,” says Dave Metelerkamp.