Residents in Mpolweni have to rebuild their homes and lives after Tuesday’s storm flattened houses and destroyed their belongings. File photo: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Red Cross has appealed for public assistance in their endeavours to help feed, clothe and shelter victims of last week's devastating tornado in New Hanover, just outside Pietermaritzburg. 

According to the organisation, trolleys had been placed in Pick 'n Pay outlets where items such as food, toiletries and blankets could be donated. 

The tornado touched down on Tuesday last week and left six dead, 20 injured and hundreds homeless, their houses reduced to rubble. 

“The situation is heartbreaking. People have been left without roofs over their heads, we have seen walls collapse, fences blown away and people’s beds deposited a few hundred metres away from their original homes. We are also seeing many people traumatised by the losses they have suffered.” said SA Red Cross secretary general Mabel Koketso on Monday. 

Some of the affected community members were still being housed in community halls in Pietermaritzburg, Amawodi and Harding, while other families returned to their homes fearing their properties would be vandalised. 

Red Cross teams were among some of the first on scene to assess the damage; they opened a soup kitchen and distributed blankets, mattresses and food buckets in the worst affected areas. 

Volunteers also provided psycho-social support to those who had lost family members, homes and their belongings.

“Red Cross volunteers are currently helping those affected to return to their homes and rebuild their lives after the devastation of the last week,” said Dr Michael Charles, head of Red Cross southern Africa. 

Africa News Agency (ANA)