6 April, 2017
As the water recedes, the full scale of the devastation is revealed. Towns across NSW and Queensland have moved into full swing cleaning up the mud and debris left by the floodwaters.
“People are in clean up mode at the moment,” says Tracy Hamilton, ADRA’s program officer who has been deployed to Lismore to help coordinate the response.
“Driving through Lismore, there are massive piles of rubbish outside of houses and shop fronts. A lot of possessions have been damaged and businesses are struggling to get back on their feet. Many still don’t have power,” Ms Hamilton says.
ADRA Emergency Management teams have been kept busy providing temporary accommodation to about 1000 people within evacuation centres in Ballina, Kingscliff, Lismore and Murwillumbah.
ADRA has also been mobilising local churches in the flood impact zone to respond to local needs. Some activities that churches in the area are involved in include: donation of resources for clean-up; physical clean-up and removal of damaged goods from houses and businesses; provision and delivery of meals; support through Foodbank shops; coordinating free furniture drop-offs; op shops supplying clothing and offering financial assistance; and assistance in repair of damaged homes and businesses.
The ADRA team are now focusing on resourcing local churches to meet local needs that have been identified, as well as putting together a volunteer register.
Joel Slade, a pastor at Kingscliff SDA church, said many church members had put their hand up to help.
“We currently have 50 volunteers working in 4 communities. We are relying on families that we know in the community to guide us to the neediest areas. We are assisting elderly people and single mothers with clean-up. We are also working with local churches to prepare hot food for locals each evening. This has been really well-received in areas that are still without power,” Pr Slade says.
Nearby, Murwillumbah SDA church pastor Ashley Smith said he was inspired by the willingness of volunteers to step up.
“We’ve been on the ground assisting with house clean-ups ever since the flood waters receded. We have helped clean at least 8 homes now. We’ve also been handing out food to those who are in desperate need. We have cooked hot meals and delivered food packages to those who have experienced the brunt of the floodwater in South Murwillumbah. I know we have had at least 40 people assisting in some capacity from clean-ups to food distribution,” Pr Smith says.
Ms Hamilton says that while many people face months of clean up, the community spirit is positive.
“Despite the devastation, people are resilient, and it’s inspiring to see the community come together to help those in need,” Ms Hamilton says.
In North Queensland, ADRA is helping mobilise local church volunteers to assist with the clean up and fill existing gaps in the recovery efforts. ADRA will continue working at the impact zone to clear debris and to receive volunteer teams who will be organised from local church volunteers over the coming weeks.
A Bowen resident, Geoff Davey, praised ADRA for helping his community.
“I’d like to thank ADRA for coming along, because we would have been here working for weeks to clear all the trees up, and all the mess. And with your help, it has only taken a few hours to get all the trees chopped and carted out. Thank God for ADRA! I will never forget what you have done,” Mr Davey says.