Ten weeks ago we were living with the strong smell of smoke everywhere we went in Plett. We scanned the hills for billowing smoke clouds and raging flames, day and night. We checked the wind strength every few minutes. We donated food. Clothes. Shelter. We cried a lot. We hugged strangers.
It was devastating for all of us. We’re still getting over it.
But finally we’ve had soaking rains that will have put out the last of the fires in the deepest tree roots in the most inaccessible valleys. The fragile grey ash will soon be full of green shoots. Plett is growing again.
In more ways than one…
All the volunteer units are involved in a massive training exercise today, to be better prepared for potential disasters: this involves many locals giving up a lot of time to help others. Even sometimes, their lives. We heard today that our 24-year-old volunteer firefighter, Brad Richards, is being awarded the Order of Mendi for his bravery during the fires.
“Brad was already at the gate and I ran onto the deck and I said to him: ‘Brad, the world doesn’t need another hero and please be careful’ and he said ‘Ma don’t worry. They need me. It will be fine’ and he left.”
It wasn’t fine. He never did make it back home. We honour him.
We honour everyone who helped during that time. The people who raced around in the path of the fire, cutting dogs free from their chains in Kranshoek. The people who rescued terrified horses. All the helpers in the old Edgars shop, who tried to make sense of loss & bewilderment. The evacuees from Kranshoek, who softly sang hymns throughout that long night in the community hall….
Turning a traumatic experience into one filled with hope.
And Plett is, once again, hope-filled. Rubble has been removed. Homes are being rebuilt. Trees have been pruned back, gardens replanted. Many new jobs have been created, which is always good news.
And, as well, we have two new eating-out experiences in Plett, both excellent in their totally opposite ways.
The Golden Palm, in the Lookout Centre, is a tiny Asian Steam Kitchen with a small, delicious menu. Chris can only seat twenty and only opens for lunch and sometimes for dinner. Make a booking! www.goldenpalm.kitchen
The Old Rectory, next to Hobie Beach, has also opened and is well worth a visit. They’ve kept sections of the original old house, as well as the thatch, and it’s beautiful. A champagne lunch on the terrace is a real treat. www.rareearth.co.za/the-old-rectory
So don’t think of Plett as a sad grey place. It’s not. Only ten weeks after the fire-storm we’re building and growing. Don’t stay away!