Relief team assess tornado mess
A JOINT operation team was working hard to restore calm in the Free State towns of Kestell and Harrismith following a tornado that wreaked havoc on Saturday, damaging about 60 houses.
The Free State cooperative governance and traditional affairs department said yesterday officials were still assessing the damage.
Cooperative governance spokeswoman Senne Bogatsu said 55 of the houses were partially damaged while three were completely destroyed, leaving more than 300 people homeless. Thirty of the houses were in Tlholong township, Kestell.
The joint team is made up of emergency personnel, police and a disaster management team from Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality.
Bogatsu said five people were taken to Manapo Hospital, in Qwaqwa one was seriously injured.
The tornado also caused chaos on a farm in Eeram and in Harrismith, where six houses were damaged. Four people were taken to Thebe Hospital in Harrismith.
"The joint operation team will continue with the assessment in the areas and locating other affected areas. They are currently on Phase 1 of their assessment," she said.
Bogatsu said they were removing debris to reach affect areas and residents.
"Our work currently is to ensure that the first phase, which is critical, is being implemented. We are assessing the affected residents, their properties and are making sure that they are safe. The team will also identify the needs of the residents and assist them with their needs," she said.
The team, together with the Red Cross, have provided blankets and soup.
Bogatsu said the majority of the affected refused to be provided with temporary shelter because they wanted to be close to their property.
"Two farmers in the area have pledged to provide food for the affected families. We have approached Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) for food parcels. The affected residents have been provided with temporary accommodation by their neighbours."
Netcare 911 spokesman Jeffrey Wicks said a woman and man were killed in separate incidents in Bethlehem and Deneysville respectively.
The woman was killed when a strong wind razed four shacks on a farm. The man was killed when the tornado destroyed houses in Deneysville. - firstname.lastname@example.org