Needy flood victims scramble for food

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By MATT MEDVED

Mietjie Peterson lifted her hands out of an empty vat of potatoes and gravy and sat back against a counter as a plastic sheet lowered and separated her from the scrabbling hands of the frenzied crowd outside.

Peterson is one of several displaced Philippi residents who volunteered to give out food to the estimated 800 people who turned the Brown’s Farm Community Hall into a make-shift refugee camp after heavy rainfall at the weekend flooded their homes.

The ward councillor for the area, Bongani Mini, said the displaced residents were being urged to go back to their homes last night because there was no rainfall expected today.

“Although their houses are still wet, many of them are anxious to return home,” he said.

“Many of them are afraid that they may lose their belongings to looters.”

Mini said the community was grateful for the food and blankets that the City’s Disaster Management department had brought for them, but he wished it had come sooner.

“It was raining on Thursday, but they didn’t respond until Saturday,” he said

Although Mini said that everything at the community hall was in order, the chaos that raged seemed to suggest otherwise. As one of the volunteers left the enclosed kitchen area holding loaves of bread, she was immediately swarmed by children attempting to snatch the loaves out of her arms as she pushed towards the exit.

When she finally emerged, her arms were empty and the children around her were squabbling over the pieces they had pilfered.

Peterson said many of the older residents were working together to help look after the younger ones.

By the end of the night she was anxious to get home, despite her home still being flooded.

“The rain came in from the top and bottom and everything is wet,” she said. “But I have two children and one of them has got a lung infection now. They need me.”

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~ by Matt Medved on July 31, 2007.

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