Ready hands help tornado victims

Haven of Rest teamed up with Tongaat Ratepayers Association members, from left, Reggie Pillay, Timothy Pillay, Jonathan Mosiah, Jeremy Mosiah, Raj Govender and Alven Mosiah and Reynold Naidoo from Haven of Rest. | MONISHKA GOVENDER

Haven of Rest teamed up with Tongaat Ratepayers Association members, from left, Reggie Pillay, Timothy Pillay, Jonathan Mosiah, Jeremy Mosiah, Raj Govender and Alven Mosiah and Reynold Naidoo from Haven of Rest. | MONISHKA GOVENDER

Published Jun 8, 2024


Durban — After the devastating tornado hit oThongathi (Tongaat), Seatides and La Mercy on Monday afternoon, people and organisations around Durban joined hands to help victims.

Many were still working on Thursday when the IOS visited.

Supplies and services included essentials like food, clothes, blankets and places to stay for some of those who lost everything they owned.

Pastor Jessica John from Shakaskraal belongs to Patrick John Ministries and said they were always ready to help in disaster areas.

“We’ve been here from the day it happened. We just got a few guys together, and we still have our church guys out here with people wanting to help.

“We initially used our own church finances, but our NGO, Patrick John Ministries, started supporting us, and as we came out here, with people seeing what we’re doing, they said they were coming out as well.

“This disaster really brought tears to my eyes, as people came out of their houses – some really wealthy people that have lost all of their things. They came out on the first morning we came here, to eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That is such a humbling experience for me.

“There was an elderly man who was sitting outside his house with fire and he’s guarding his house; it is collapsed, but he’s guarding it. He’s saying he can’t leave his house because when he comes back then somebody else will occupy it.”

Pastor Jessica John, right, with her Patrick John Ministries team at Naidoo Road in oThongathi. | MONISHKA GOVENDER

Raj Govender from the Tongaat Ratepayers Association said they had been working with other organisations and hoped many others would help.

“We were able to come to this area in Naidoo Road, oThongathi, because of the help we received. The Haven of Rest is using their premises as our distribution centre and Pastor Rani is allowing us to use all these vehicles.”

Reynold Naidoo from Haven of Rest said they were doing everything they could to feed victims, supplying food daily as well as other essentials, and have started a disaster relief fund.

“We’ve been helping since Monday and we’ve assisted with evacuating people. We’ve also housed some residents and have been providing meals.

“We’re doing 500 meals every day for the next 10 days. We’re also aiding with water and blankets and essentials to other areas. We’re also in the next phase, which is to see how we can assist to rebuild homes, a serious concern. We’re looking at more than 5 000 homes destroyed throughout oThongathi. It’s traumatic seeing the devastation. We all have to club together to help our community.”

We Feed SA staff helping with clean up in La Mercy. Photo: Supplied

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was formed years ago to help and protect the community, so when disaster struck, the organisation jumped into action.

“Monday evening we mobilised even though some of the members’ homes were affected. They just secured their homes and we were out for most of the night, clearing roadways, cutting trees, evacuating buildings and being wherever there was a need.

“Watson Highway was inaccessible, so the team stepped in to assist in medical emergencies and ever since we have basically been on the ground. After evaluation, we found a lot of homes were destroyed, so clothes and other essentials were needed,” said CERT founder Nazir Sadack.

Organisations and concerned people set up a command centre at a resident’s home, and by Tuesday a command structure was in place.

“The feedback and the response from the community is absolutely phenomenal. No words to describe people coming through, offering their assistance and bringing stuff through.

“We’ve received stuff from as far as Ballito, Stanger and Durban. Hot meals are coming through for the residents,” said Sadack.

Venk-Pac staff and councillor Yogis Govender pack hampers at Maidstone Primary.

The Tongaat Hindu Unity Forum has convened a disaster committee supported by community-based organisations like the Tongaat Child and Family Welfare Society, Tongaat Civic Association and faith-based bodies.

Yogan Naidoo from the Tongaat Hindu Unity Forum said: “A joint operation centre has been set up at the Vishwaroop Temple at 10 Plane Street. All collections are received at this depot and a network of selfless volunteers and co-ordinators ensure the aid reaches the victims.

“From this centre we prepare and distribute 5 100 hot meals daily, including breakfast, lunch and supper. Medicines, blankets, drinking water, grocery hampers, and clothing are handed out to victims,” said Naidoo.

“Now that we have addressed the immediate needs, our next phase is to get a team of engineers to inspect the damaged properties and direct us towards those that can be repaired. “We will assist those victims who are not covered by insurance. Areas we are attending to include Sandfields, Fairbreeze, Magaweni, and Seatides.”

Volunteers at the Tongaat Hindu Society pack hampers of donated produce on Friday for families, some of whom had lost everything in the tornado.

Ricky Naidoo of Venk-Pac said the next step in this disaster was to help rebuilding homes that are not insured.

“We will have engineers on the ground and will start rebuilds immediately. I hope others get on board.”

Many residents struggled with security, fearing whatever was left of their homes would get looted. KZN VIP Security stationed themselves at various parts to help protect them and in rescue efforts.

Gareth Naidoo from KZN VIP said: “We deployed our own disaster management teams. At least four of our ambulances are taking people to medical facilities at no charge.”

KZN VIP Security on the day the tornado hit oThongathi. Picture: Supplied

Independent on Saturday