Plett residents open their hearts and pockets after fires
While Bitou was spared from the recent massive runaway wildfires, the town’s residents jumped in to assist those affected.
When the Buffelsnek fire reached the R340, locals set up a joint operation centre (JOC) in Wittedrift as it became the nearest safe point to operate from.
Marius Venter of the JOC said the fire threatened Buffelsnek and Klein Bavaria residents on Saturday 3 November, and 73 residents were evacuated to the Wittedrift High School hall, before being moved later to the community hall where the Wittedrift NG Church ensured they were fed.
“The Plett community’s response was overwhelming. We received enough mattresses, pillows, toys, food and everything they would need,” said Venter.
Ina Olivier from the Plettenberg Bay Crime Prevention Association (PBCPA), who initiated relief efforts, said she was overwhelmed by the “goodness of the people of Plett”.
She said Chris du Preez from the church and his congregation jumped in without hesitation. “He was busy with a funeral at the time the call went out, but immediately responded.
One of the funeral goers went out and bought 200 hot dog rolls and viennas so that the people had something to eat,” Olivier said.
There were several moments where she had to fight back tears, she said, especially over the generosity of local children.
“One little boy approached me with bags of sandwiches. He said he wanted to give it to the firefighters and that he was sorry he did not have enough pocket money to ensure that each package contained a sweet.”
Another little girl offered to give away her clothes to the fire victims. “She lives in a shack and the total content of her wardrobe fits inside a box, but she chose her best clothes to donate.”
Venter added that the community also ensured that the firefighters were fed and hydrated to keep them going.
Plett’s assistance stretched beyond Bitou’s borders. Venter, who along with several other residents established the Plett Fire Fund after the devastating June 2017 fires, said he had been overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.
In just a week, Plett locals contributed R100 000 to relief efforts which enabled them to purchase necessities for victims and firefighters, which were distributed to affected areas including Sedgefield, Knysna and Tsitsikamma.
“We have lived through last year’s fire disaster and know firsthand how horrific the impact is on those caught in the middle. It is because of this that people have been so generous,” Venter said.
He added that the gratefulness of the recipients had also been touching. “We were met with tears of gratitude wherever we went.
A sandwich or a blanket meant the world to them.”
See more photos at www.georgeherald.com A joint operations centre (JOC) was set up in Wittedrift to assist evacuees of the Buffelsnek blaze.