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July : Lonza Employee Responds to Knysna Fire Relief Aid Efforts

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10 July, 2017

Lonza Employee Responds to Knysna Fire Relief Aid Efforts

Lonza Employee Responds to Knysna Fire Relief Aid Efforts

In what has been described as the biggest disaster in South Africa, the Knysna fires saw one of the largest deployment of fire-fighters and volunteers from all over the country. Among those who responded was Lonza Wood Protection's employee, Rory Milne.

With the full backing of Lonza, Rory returned to his hometown to join the force of volunteers putting their weight behind the fire relief aid efforts for displaced families and fire-fighters battling the blaze. "I grew up in Kynsna and still have family living there. After two days of following the terrible ordeal online, I made the decision to go and help wherever I could," explained Rory.

"We recognised that this called for a time for everyone to pull together. There was no hesitation in our decision to cover the cost of Rory's flights from Durban to Port Elizabeth and for the hire of an SUV to make it possible for him to transport much-needed goods to those in need along the Garden Route," said Doug Sayce, General Manager of Lonza Wood Protection.

On his arrival, the first stop was at Makro to load up supplies specifically for the fire-fighters. By this time people had heard about the trip and began donating. With this unexpected financial support, a u-turn was made for a second stop at Makro, this time adding 20 pairs of work boots as there were reports of fire-fighters' boots melting on the job.

Half the goods were delivered to the temporary operation's fire base in Knysna. Before leaving for Plettenberg Bay to deliver the balance of the goods, Rory met up with a friend who was also assisting with aid distribution, despite the fact that their home had been ravaged by the fire and burned to the ground.  

"The devastation was everywhere, but I continued to look for gaps in the aid distribution and heard about a portable toilet hire company that had lost many toilets in the blaze along with a private residence. Despite this loss, they were concentrating their efforts on getting all the existing toilets in operation as sanitation was incredibly important at this point in time. To support this remarkable effort, 500 toilet rolls were sourced and supplied. Another gap identified was socks for the fire-fighters, which after almost a week were literally wearing thin. 221 pairs of socks were purchased and delivered to the fire base operations," recalls Rory.

Satisfied that the short-term needs on the humanitarian front were met, the focus shifted to wildlife and their affected habitats.  Contact was made with organisations in the area and Rory was connected to a group of people who were starting to co-ordinate a movement to care for these animals. A truck load of feed was purchased and dispatched to a stable in Rheenendal, which was one of the worst affected areas in respect of natural vegetation. The feed stock enabled a group, dubbed ‘Eden Be Needin', to get multiple private vehicles loaded and local volunteers then distributed Lucerne, pellets and bird seed accordingly.

"The bravery of the Garden Route residents, their tireless efforts and their ability to put their own loss aside was inspiring. Thank you to the unconditional support from various individuals, companies, Round Table SA and my own employer - Lonza Wood Protection - who made it possible for me to play a small role in helping a community survive this disaster," concluded Rory.

Lonza Employee Responds to Knysna Fire Relief Aid Efforts

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Lonza Wood Protection