7 February, 2019

The people of Townsville have always been community minded, so the response to the current flooding is no exception.

Having received a year’s worth of rain in nine days, Townsville is facing some of the worst flooding in its history. Thousands of houses have been affected, schools have shut down, and families have been evacuated.

The Ross River overflowed at Rossiter Park.

ADRA volunteers have been responding alongside community members and emergency service personnel. “It’s powerful to get out there and see the real community spirit of everybody who’s willing to get involved,” says Nathan Burke, ADRA volunteer coordinator.

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ADRA volunteers gather to respond to Townsville floods. Photo: Nathan Burke

ADRA volunteers began their response by working alongside the SES and Townsville community members, filling and distributing sandbags for those affected by the floodwaters. “There was a mix of young and old all working together in the pouring rain,” says ADRA volunteer Harry Boyd of his time filling sandbags. “We made close to 1,000 bags.”

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Harry helping to fill sandbags. Photo: Nathan Burke

As the situation has progressed, so has ADRA’s response. Power outages in affected suburbs have made it difficult to prepare food, so ADRA volunteers have been involved in providing food to feed emergency personnel like the SES and fire brigade.

As the rain slows, efforts are turning towards cleaning up.

“There is so much water right up to your waist inside houses,” says Chris Kirkwood, ADRA volunteer and pastor of Townsville City Church. “We’re going to have significant physical damage, but there’s going to be a lot of damage to the individuals too. So there’s a lot of work to be done in many areas.”

ADRA is well known for being there in times of need. Chris says, “People will be able to associate ADRA with those who help out in a crisis.”

In response to the need in the community, the Townsville ADRA Op Shop has opened its doors on February 7 and 8 to give free clothing and needed goods to those affected by the flooding. There has been a huge response. “I’m so thankful,” says a recipient of the goods. “I have lost my house, my car, everything! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw your Op Shop was going to help us with free clothes. Thank you ADRA so much!”

The Townsville volunteers are joining Aitkenvale Church members, who have decided to cancel their church services to instead help with the response. As the weekend approaches, they are preparing to go door-knocking to offer their services to those in affected areas, beginning the long process of cleaning up.

To help ensure ADRA is always ready and always there to respond in times of disasters, please donate to our Disaster and Famine Relief Offering now or on February 16. Your donation will support our Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund, enabling ADRA to have funds available before a disaster strikes.