“We were one of the lucky ones. Our home and salon were untouched by the terrible fires,” says Bridget Stannard. Bridget owns The Ladies’ Club Salon in Knysna and her husband Bob owns The Men’s Club Barber Shop. “The local community have been amazing with donations of accommodation, food, clothing, and bedding. We are also receiving help from afar, with trucks arriving from Johannesburg, Cape Town and surrounding towns. At present, the emphasis is on returning electricity and water to the affected areas. You cannot believe how many of our clients have lost everything. It is so sad. We hope and pray for some rain. Clients from Europe, who have holiday homes here, have been contacting us by email, to send their good wishes.
The biggest problem in Knysna is trying to find accommodation for all the homeless people. Lots of outsiders with holiday homes have made their homes available. There are centres throughout the town offering temporary accommodation with people donating mattresses, sleeping bags and bedding. There are so many charity organisations that people can send donations to.
A popular one is :- Nedbank, Knysna.
Acc.name Emergency Fund
Acc.No. 1147 920 699
According to Nicci from Nicci Philips Hair Design, it seems like every other client has lost houses, homes or possessions. “The salon opened again on Friday and it was quite traumatic with clients breaking down having lost everything. They were not there to have their hair done, they just came in to share and commiserate with each other. Many of the clients are in the age group 60 to 80. Driving around the devastation is indescribable but the spirit in the Knysna community is so strong – the community will recover: like the Phoenix, Knysna will rise from the ashes stronger and better.”
While everyone is still in shock and trying to process this tragic disaster there is no doubt that this is going to have a profound knock-on effect on the town. So many have lost their homes and, because Knysna is a mostly a rental town, all their earthly possessions. Rental property owners have been offering their holiday homes out for no charge until the season starts in September. Many will have to leave the town however because, as it is, there are not enough rental properties in the town.
There are so many charities that have been set up, however donors must be aware of the many scams doing the rounds. A long-standing, reputable estate agency in Knysna is setting up a charity with storage facilities for household items, appliances and furniture which will become necessary as people try to set up home again. Their contact details are:
email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 082 361 6873.
Closer to home, one of Nicci’s employees, stylist Laura Westcott , her partner and their dog, have lost all their possessions in the fire and kudos go out to Simon Clark Hairdressing in Port Elizabeth who have started a charity drive to assist them. They are offering their clients a R100 voucher in return for donations and anything that Laura and her partner can use to rebuild their lives. Free haircuts are also offered in exchange for donations of dog food. See their Facebook page www.facebook.com/SCHairdressing.
Finally, a huge thank you to Joico South Africa who has donated shampoos and conditioners to the value of R105,000 to the people affected by the Knysna disasters.