Gale force winds were fuelling the fire that started with a lightning strike, but later there were reports of arsonists adding to the unprecedented and mammoth task that the fire fighters were facing: trying to contain an unstoppable fire and saving lives and properties as best they could .
My sister Helen who lives in a suburb called Paradise, overlooking the Knysna Heads and lagoon, woke to fire clouds in the distance, the air heavy with smoke, making it hard to breathe, burning your eyes. She was keeping us updated and asking for prayers for rain and protection.
By 6pm she was evacuated from her home, her suburb alight ...waiting at a church, the hospital patients were also being evacuated. By 9:30pm the church is under threat and they are evacuated for a second time. And then the silence as we don't hear anything more during the night.
We awake to a new world of utter devastation and destruction.....images resemble a war zone. Lives have been lost, houses burnt to the ground......they are talking about 150 informal settlement houses lost, but around 460 brick & tile residences, guesthouses and tourist accomodation completely destroyed!
Finally we hear from Helen, she is safe and by some miracle her house is still standing. Her garden is burnt to ashes, the outside of her house shows how the flames licked the bricks. With only minor damage to the outside and a massive cleanup ahead, she is very, very fortunate.....some of her neighbours have lost everything.
But in a sad twist of fate, her estranged husband had somehow cancelled all their insurance without her knowledge, so the road ahead is going to be an uphill battle.
Sitting halfway across the world from my sister, my heart aches for her and her beautiful town, Knysna.
She needs practical help and also our prayers. First and foremost, she needs a fence to protect herself and her property from looters and other opportunistic criminals. She may reside in Paradise, but she lives in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The internal smoke damage and external repairs and cleanup, is going to place a heavy financial burden on her to get everything done by herself.
She is a 57 year old Early Childhood Teacher, living alone and having to now pick up the pieces and rebuild her life.
My plea to you as we sit in Australia, is to help ease her burden by donating to this cause so that, in some small way, we can make a big difference to her reality.
Keeping in mind that the currency exchange is approximately 1:10, so for every $1 we give, she will receive ZAR10.
Let us help Helen from afar as Knysna rises from the ashes.
- Marilyn Myhill
- Rob and Anna Palmer
- Karen Brown
- Tanya & Lee Johnston
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