PE township flooding unleashes hardship and compassion

[notice]Heavy rain and bitterly cold weather at the weekend caused flooding in various parts of Port Elizabeth. One of the hardest hit areas was Gqebera (Walmer Township), where the greatest impact was felt in the shackland at the far end of the township. PETER FREEMAN, Manager of the Human Dignity Centre (HDC), a Christian outreach and upliftment project that ministers to poor people in the area, wrote this report.[/notice]

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Click on the photo to view a photo gallery of flood pictures by HDC staff member, CELIA PIENAAR.

According to a local source, some 175mm of rain fell in the area over the weekend, causing horrendous flooding in the area of Gebera which is serviced by the Human Dignity Centre of Jerusalem Ministries. The ground was already saturated with the water table really right at the surface, so no seepage has been happening.

Flurry of need
On Sunday some of our staff attempted in vain to visit some of our beneficiaries after the worst of the rains which started on Friday. Many of our beneficiary families (the poorest of the poor) have lost most of their possessions (again!), with many in water deeper than their beds. Some were accommodated at the local council office (a tiny space!) on Sunday night. Aid was brought by social services but in the flurry of need, was not equitably distributed.

We conferred and agreed that there was an urgent need to intervene at our end of this community: Area Q, Federation and G West. On Monday morning, Jerusalem Ministries HQ at 25 Albert Road prepared and sent out about 120 litres of soup and all the bread we had in our possession, sending our bus to the Gqebera cemetery road (high ground) and sending out our Moms on Call and other volunteers to let it be known that soup and bread was available from our bus. In no time at all the community were there with all manner of containers to receive our gift and our mobile soup kitchen was soon dry!

All clothing and bedding soaked
We also went out on foot (gumbooted feet actually – since the roads were in most places flooded up to 0,5m deep) to visit the homes of some of our beneficiaries who regularly suffer flooding in heavy rains. Their situations were critical, especially those with babies and toddlers. Every item of clothing and bedding was soaked. We gave out a lot of blankets and items of warm clothing, but clearly more urgent intrervention was needed.

We decided to open our hall at HDC and prepare it to sleep as many families as might require this help (we estimated that as many as 20 families might need to avail themselves of this facility). But we had no extra food resources, having exhausted these through our mobile soup kitchen intervention earlier in the day.

Warm and generous response
During the afternoon we used our social media contacts (and the telephone!) to let our need be known, and immediately a warm and generous response began. Food arrived (in the mould of George Muller of Bristol!) just before suppertime, by which time we had only crumbs to offer. Clothing, blankets and monetary input started coming in yesterday (Monday) and all of today. By dusk on Monday evening we had four desperate families who had heard of our offer of dry sleeping space.We expected others but it was pitch dark and very dangerous to try to traverse the flooded terrain with little ones and so some who were expected did not arrive. They are with us tonight and our numbers are growing as I write.

We are so grateful to our great and generous God whose compassion and provision knows no end! And to God’s people for their generous and immediate response to our call for assistance in obedience to His prompting!

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