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It's been a busy summer


With floods, fires, cyclones and heatwaves, this summer has already been a difficult one for many Australians. But they are not alone. Red Cross has been there helping people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Bushfires in New South Wales in September and October marked an early start for Australia's fire season, reminding everyone of the importance of being prepared. Red Cross was ready. When fast-moving and uncontrolled bushfires destroyed 193 homes in the Blue Mountains in NSW in October, 195 Red Cross volunteers and staff like Carolyn and Josephine, working multiple shifts, helped more than 1,300 people at four evacuation centres. Read about how Alison, Christie, Jocelyn and Vince and Margaret were affected by the fires here.

Months on and our volunteers and staff are still there helping the communities to recover. We're attending community meetings, alongside members of the community and we're still providing resources and support as people get back on their feet.

When bushfires, floods, cyclones and heatwaves hit Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia in January, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers registered and provided personal support to people in evacuation and relief centres across the country. To help people in South Australia cope with high temperatures, volunteers made calls to more than 2,000 people who are particularly vulnerable to the heat to make sure they were ok and to provide tips on how to stay cool.

During the first weeks of February, more than 220 trained Red Cross volunteers provided personal support, food and water in 17 relief centres to help people affected by the uncontrolled bushfires in Victoria. During the fires, 3,011 people registered their details with Red Cross so that they could reunite with family and friends who were caught up in the fires. During emergencies, Red Cross activates Register. Find. Reunite. service to help people in disaster affected areas to reconnect with their loved ones.

Even though the relief centres in Victoria are now closed, Red Cross is still there. In the coming weeks, Red Cross volunteers will be attending community events and visiting homes in the affected areas to offer personal support and helpful information like our recovery resources. This includes 'Coping with a major personal crisis' booklet, 'After the emergency: a book to help kids cope with emergencies, 'After the emergency playlist' for young people affected by emergencies and 'Helping children and young people cope with crisis' booklet.

Recovering from a disaster, particularly major ones, can be long, complex, and emotional. One year after the devastating floods in Queensland in January 2013, Red Cross is still there as people like John rebuild their homes. For some, the impact was even more devastating as they were still recovering from destructive floods in 2010/11. In the past 12 months, Red Cross staff and volunteers have provided support to more than 37,900 people in 19 recovery centres across Queensland and visited 480 homes to ensure people are ok.

On 7 February, Victorians marked the 5th anniversary of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires. Red Cross was there attending memorial services and standing alongside the community. We're committed to being there long after the response phase is over and we know that for some people the recovery process is long and difficult. The Black Saturday bushfires led to one of Australia's largest ever relief and recovery programs. During the fires, 1600 Red Cross people responded immediately working alongside fire fighters, police and other emergency services personnel. Since the catastrophic event, 400 volunteers have supported the communities in their recovery, attending community recovery events, visiting homes and businesses to offer a listening ear and to provide links to relevant local services. Our recovery work in Victoria continues. Read more.

As it does in Tasmania. One year after devastating fires swept through Tasmania, Red Cross is there for the Tasman Peninsula, Molesworth and Collinsvale communities as they recover. Experiencing the anniversary of an emergency can be stressful. Anniversaries are often a time for reflection on how life has changed, which can cause feelings of guilt, sadness or regret. Red Cross has been working closely with local government and communities to support people in their long-term recovery.

Red Cross staff and volunteers continue to work with the communities; attending and helping to organise community recovery events, providing preparedness and recovery lesson plans for schools in the affected areas and supporting community activities to provide emotional support, information and referrals to recovery services. Read about how we are helping children to recover after the fires and supporting the Molesworth community to be better prepared in the future.

All of these events remind us just how devastating emergencies can be and how important it is to be prepared. Disasters can happen in a moment, but their effects can be felt for a lifetime. From our years of experience, we know that people who have put together a plan recover from disasters better. That's why Red Cross continues to help people to prepare for future emergencies and we're focusing on the most vulnerable people in our community. We've developed tools like the disaster preparedness plan and other resources to help you prepare here.

Thousands of Red Cross volunteers and staff are standing at the ready to respond immediately should there be more emergencies in the coming weeks and months. And we're able to do all of this thanks to you. Your support ensures that Red Cross is able to respond as soon as an emergency occurs and helps us continue to support people in their journey of recovery. Whenever you see a Red Cross person in action, you will know that your donation has played an important role in activating a Red Cross emergency response.