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SAES response in full swing as Queensland burns

SAES response in full swing as Queensland burns

SAES response in full swing as Queensland burns

3 December 2018

Gladstone Salvation Army officer Lieutenant Chris Ford with Jody (middle) and Jules, Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) volunteers from Lifestyle Church helping people affected by the bushfires in far-north Queensland.

By Simone Worthing

As more than 100 bushfires burn across Queensland, The Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) is responding – at Miriam Vale south of Gladstone, Mt Larcom west of Gladstone, and at Bundaberg.

In Mackay, The Salvation Army is on standby.

At the evacuation centres in Miriam Vale and Mt Larcom, SAES teams are providing meals for up to 60 people each meal. Approximately 70 households have also been assisted through a combination of emergency food and fuel vouchers as well as universal gift cards.

In the Gladstone region, those who have been evacuated from their homes in Baffle Creek and Deep Water and are either staying with friends or family, or at the evacuation centres, are waiting for the danger to pass so they can return to their homes.

“Once this happens and we can get access to the disaster zone, we expect the numbers needing assistance to go through the roof,” said Lieutenant Chris Ford, Gladstone Corps Officer.

“We will then be providing daily sausage sizzles, water, and recovery hub assistance. We’re preparing for two sites – Deep Water and a pop-up recovery hub south of that.

“[Lieutenant] Kay and I are also planning to get a brass band together to play carols in some of the hardest hit areas, as well as provide toys and other Christmas supplies.

“There’s going to be a few more tough days ahead yet, so for the moment it’s a waiting game and we will just keep doing what we’re doing until the situation changes.”

Captains Leanne and Lincoln Stevens, Inala (Brisbane) Corps Officers, are currently leading the recovery effort with a small support team.

“This is a unique situation,” said Captain Lincoln. “We’re in recovery mode but also in the midst of a disaster, which doesn’t normally happen.

“It’s a very good thing we’re here, though, and will continue at the evacuation centre until people can return to their properties. It’s then that we’ll see an influx of people seeking support.”

Captain Leanne said that one of the major concerns people have is for the welfare of their animals. “Some people seem more interested in making sure their animals were fed than taking care of their own needs,” she said.

An SAES team from Sydney has now arrived in Gladstone to relieve the local teams.

“Mick Evans, a local volunteer, is staying with the Sydney team to help with local knowledge and contacts,” said Lieutenant Ford.

The local Gladstone Council and Department of Communities respect and are appreciative of all the work The Salvation Army is doing.

“At a community meeting we went to, we heard ‘Thank God the Salvos are here’ as we walked into the room,” said Lieutenant Ford. “Councillor Rick Hansen even used our language, thanking us for ‘providing hope’.”

In Bundaberg, 190km south of Gladstone, SAES volunteers are serving meals to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews from The Salvation Army Tom Quinn Centre.

“This is a significant task with between 100 and 200 meals being served for both lunch and dinner each day,” said Mr Norm Archer, Salvation Army Director of Emergency Services.

“We’re praying for rain – rain without lightning – and that everyone stays safe – those affected by the fires and those supporting them.

“The response from our SAES volunteers and Salvation Army folk has been overwhelming and amazing. They step up to the plate every time and it’s very humbling to be a part of.”

Lieutenant-Colonel David Godkin, Queensland Divisional Commander, will travel to the affected regions this week, to offer support and assistance.

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