Bushfire Crisis - January 2020 Update
Hopefully the worst is over, but fire season in Australia is not over yet, so the need of the hour is more rain! The other need is to support the communities affected as well as engage in fundraising. Below is an update from our supporting Churches of Christ where members and their families have been actively involved.
Phil Boringer serves as a HOPE rep for the Adelaide Church of Christ and has been coordinating food preparation and delivery to fire victims. Photos from the area affected (above). Members from the Adelaide Christian church have been delivering food since December. Over 50 meals were prepared and through coordination with the Woodside Lutheran Church food depot about 20 families and people living alone received cooked meals. In addition a few church members (Phil, Saji and Jeevas) drove around affected communities in Harrogate and Mont Torrens delivering meals and hampers. Their feedback: it was a sobering experience meeting those who had lost nearly everything or fought and managed to survive.
Andrew Plant is a volunteer fire fighter. He was sent to southern New South Wales and the Victorian Highlands as part of a strike team to fight fires in December. He is still on standby to respond to anymore major events in his allocated area- fortunately there are none currently, which is also helpful because he doesn’t have any more leave from work.
Audrey Woo, is a mother of two and her eldest son, Tony is on active duty as a volunteer fire fighter in Canberra where fires are ongoing. He has been working tirelessly for weeks, will sometimes only get a couple of hours sleep between shifts and just then just has a time for instant noodles for food. He has been working with a team which is under resourced and thinly spread- if you divide the fire line by volunteer fire fighters you effectively have one person to every four kilometres.
Ian Paton is a member of the Melbourne Church and is a retired volunteer firefighter. However this hasn’t stopped him from supporting his local Country Fire Authority through fundraising. He engaged local motorcycle groups and car clubs in order to raise funds. This raised approximately $10,000 which was used in replenishing and replacing fire hoses. Ian suggests that if you would like to help, do the same- find a local brigade involved in the fire fighting and make contact with the captain. This way your donation will go directly to where it is needed and avoid the red tape of bureaucracy.
Mark Darvodelskyis is part of the Sydney Church of Christ and a Deputy Captain for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) of New South Wales. This is a volunteer organization where only the managerial positions would have professional firefighters, everyone else are volunteers. Mark has been with this group for almost thirty years now and he leads a brigade of 4-6 people. He shares that most of the bushfires around Sydney and the Blue Mountains are under control now although there are still fires along the southern part of the state. In terms of support Mark says that the RFS is pretty well funded so no immediate needs there. He does agree that having groups visiting affected communities and maybe having a meal or shopping there will greatly help the local economy get back on its feet.
A number of church members from Brisbane & Goldcoast as well as Melinda Smith (recently moved to Melbourne) have signed up to Volunteer Queensland which gives you an opportunity to serve in disasters should the need arise. See information below.
Thank you for your concern for our fellow Australians affected by the devastating fires currently ravaging across the country. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones and all who have been affected. The devastation is incomprehensible, and we rally behind our fellow states and territories during this time.
Whilst all offers of assistance are appreciated, it is vital to balance these with the needs, well-being and readiness to be able to accommodate assistance of those impacted by the fires. The readiness of volunteer-involving organisations working to coordinate recovery operations to place volunteers also needs consideration.
Many disaster impacted individuals, families and communities are still coming to terms with their loss and are not ready for outside help. Many volunteer-organisations working in disaster recovery have not yet been approached to help and those that have are just beginning their work. Currently it is still not possible to access some fire affected areas due to health and safety risks and access and accommodation limitations.
Recovery and rebuilding are most effective when coordinated through local and experienced volunteer organisations responding to requests for help from impacted individuals and communities and with the knowledge of local Councils. Volunteers provide an essential workforce for this recovery and rebuilding, which will be long-term.
Any additional volunteer support will be required during the long-term recovery, rather than during the immediate response.
During times of crisis it is natural to feel an immediate, compelling urge to help – please wait until volunteer assistance is requested. With the extent of the devastation our country has experienced in recent months, we have been overwhelmed with offers of assistance to volunteer and to donate money, goods and services. We ask you to be patient while planning for the right help, at the right time and in the right place is coordinated.
Here's what’s happening on the ground now:
Here’s how you can support those impacted by the destructive fires:
What Volunteering Queensland is doing to help:
Emergency Volunteering is an initiative of Volunteering Queensland. As you are from a state outside of Queensland, we would like to forward your registration details on to your local State/ Territory peak body for volunteering. This will enable you to receive the latest emergency updates from them and for potential matching to local recovery volunteering opportunities. If you have any concerns with this, please let us know.
We are grateful for your concern and offers to help those currently experiencing displacement, loss and pain. Their safety and well-being comes first and a coordinated response best serves their immediate and longer-term needs. Please be patient and understanding if your offers of assistance are not immediately accepted. Stop and listen to trusted sources. They will let you know when, what and where help is needed.
Rest assured, we will contact you if our Emergency Volunteering service is activated and your help is needed.
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