You are here: HomeNews20200724 › Kindness Counts In Bushfire Recovery

Kindness counts in bushfire recovery

Kindness counts in bushfire recovery

Kindness counts in bushfire recovery

24 July 2020

The Salvation Army Bushfire Recovery Team mobile vehicle visiting a property at Peak View, south-east NSW, an area impacted by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.

By Grace Michael

The Salvation Army has been supporting communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires since the very beginning. Though the fires have long stopped burning, relief workers continue to stand alongside communities for the long haul.

Hazel and her partner met The Salvation Army after bushfires swept through their Cobargo property in south-east NSW earlier this year. They were forced to evacuate with nothing but a bag of clothes, some photographs and important documents. When they returned the following day, everything was gone.

One-on-one consultations are held inside the Army’s mobile recovery vehicle.

“The fire came [towards us] at 11 at night, and by 4am the next morning the fire was here and we had to evacuate out of town,” she said. “Three-quarters of this shire was burnt. All of our property gone ... everything, all of our animals. Everything.”

Hazel’s story is a familiar one in this small Bega Valley Shire town, where many families and individuals also lost nearly everything.

Since early January, Hazel and her partner have been staying in the spare bedroom of one of her yoga students, as they wait to rebuild. Like so many other affected families and individuals, they received government and charitable grants, including a ‘loss of residence’ financial grant from The Salvation Army. This assistance is helping Hazel and her partner to get back on their feet.

“We are slowly rebuilding,” she said. “We received a lot of support from The Salvation Army initially and a lot of support from them now, too.”

‘Double-whammy’

When the Bushfire Disaster Appeal was launched on 9 November 2019, The Salvation Army knew that its services and programs would be needed for the long haul. Relief workers are delivering mid to long-term recovery support, which is especially needed now that bushfire-impacted communities are also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been a double-whammy,” said Hazel.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has created further hardship and inconvenience for the Cobargo community, it has not halted the efforts of The Salvation Army Bushfire Recovery Team.

Shane Mehew, who leads a team of phone assessors, said the team deals with 50 to 60 grant applications a day. “Coming into Phase Two [bushfire grants] has been very busy [with] the need for community members to reach their recovery goals following the [immediate] impact of the bushfires.”

The Salvation Army is committed to helping individuals and families like Hazel and has also adapted to how it supports people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outreach workers from the Bushfire Recovery Team have gone ‘mobile’, driving donated vehicles to regional and rural areas impacted by the bushfires.

Hazel and her partner hope to be in their new home soon and are thankful for the support they have received, from both the government and charitable organisations like The Salvation Army. “Every bit of help we have gotten has come from everyone’s kindness.” She said. “It blows our minds.”

Grace Michael is an Internal Communications Coordinator with The Salvation Army Internal Communications Department

Comments

No comments yet - be the first.

Leave a Comment


- Will not be published

Email me follow-up comments

Note: Your comment requires approval before being published.

Default avatarWould you like to add a personal image? Visit gravatar.com to get your own free gravatar, a globally-recognized avatar. Once setup, your personal image will be attached every time you comment.