Picture: THE HERALD
Picture: THE HERALD

Businesses have come to the aid of people displaced after the recent floods and fires in the Western Cape.

The fires and storms have claimed numerous lives and displaced thousands of people‚ while completely gutting homes‚ schools‚ businesses and vehicles.

More than 70 Airbnb hosts have offered their houses at no charge through the Airbnb disaster tool to those who have been displaced.

"Airbnb has activated our Disaster Response Tool to assist travellers and temporarily displaced locals impacted by the flooding and wildfires across the Western Cape‚" Airbnb’s country manager for SA, Velma Corcoran‚ said.

She said in the event of emergencies like this one‚ the Airbnb disaster response tool connected those in need of urgent accommodation with local Airbnb hosts who were opening their homes free of charge.

She said there had been take-ups on the temporary accommodation offer in the region.

"We are trying to reach as many people affected as possible‚ as well as spread the word to Airbnb hosts in the area so that they can list their home for free and assist in housing those in need‚" said Corcoran.

Cellphone network operator Vodacom has set up a R20m disaster recovery fund that will go towards providing support and aid for those most affected when disasters arise, including the victims of the recent fires and storms.

Vodacom will immediately provide access to R10m from the disaster recovery fund, largely to sustain an emergency partnership with the Department of Basic Education that is focused on rebuilding or refurbishing schools that have been affected by recent catastrophe.

The company will also assist with other reconstruction efforts, including the distribution of blankets food and water to the affected areas.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said the rebuilding of schools was in line with the company’s commitment to support education.

The company has already deployed 1,200 starter pack sim-cards loaded with airtime to disaster relief personnel in Knysna to enable better communication and emergency response. This will be extended to include residents in affected areas.

Vodacom had also set up public cellphone charging stations and wi-fi hotspots at various sites that needed assistance, including the Knysna Joint Operations Control Centre, said Joosub.

Standard Bank has donated R10m to assist with relief efforts.

Ben Kruger‚ CEO of Standard Bank Group, said: "It is with hope for a better tomorrow for all those affected‚ that we at Standard Bank are donating R10m to the efforts."

He said the donation was in addition to the work that was being done on the ground by the Standard Bank Coastal‚ Knysna‚ Plettenberg Bay‚ Mossel Bay and Greater Cape regional heads and their teams.

Other companies that have donated money to assist in the victims of the recent disasters include MTN, which donated R1.5m to fund relief efforts in parts of the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. Absa has also donated millions of rand.

Last week Johannesburg businessman Diederick Stopforth arranged for 100 free tickets from Kulula.com for retired and part-time firefighters to fly to Knysna. Spur restaurant offered food vouchers to the firefighters.

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