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Red Cross responds to fires in Victoria and floods in the NT


As fires rage in the south of the country and floods swamp the north, Red Cross volunteers are on the ground providing vital support for people affected by the disasters.

Monday December 28, 2015

Evacuees from the Daly River flood have been airlifted to Darwin.

In the height of the holiday season, communities in both the south and north of Australia have been severely affected by devastating disasters. In the south, bushfires have raged along parts of Victoria's Great Ocean Road, while in the north, severe floods in the Northern Territory have caused large-scale evacuations of communities of the Daly River.

In Victoria, the fires began on 19 December and grew rapidly on Christmas Day. Communities along the coast were affected and tourists and residents alike were forced to evacuate to relief centres set up in Apollo Bay and Torquay. The areas most seriously affected were around Wye River and Separation Creek where 116 houses have been lost to the fires.

Since Christmas Day, trained Red Cross staff and volunteers have been on the ground providing urgently needed help for people affected by the fires: providing emotional support, reconnecting loved ones through Register.Find.Reunite and checking in with those who have registered to ensure they have access to the support and information they need. Several hundred people have registered either at relief centres or online and anyone affected by the Surf Coast bushfires or who wants to know if their loved ones are safe should go to register.redcross.org.au.

Red Cross volunteers are also supporting people as they return to their properties to see if their homes have survived the blaze.

"Many people are understandably distressed as they wait to find out what has happened to their properties around Wye River and Separation Creek," says Australian Red Cross State Manager Emergency Services Angela Sutherland. "We are seeing incredible efforts from Red Cross volunteers along with our partner agencies, so many people are doing an amazing job in some very trying conditions, and at a particularly special time of year.

"We're not sure of the final impact," Ms Sutherland says. "But we know that people need our help now, and they will continue to need it for some time yet. We are working closely with local councils, Department of Health and Human Services, Emergency Management Victoria and our other partners to provide support and information where appropriate."

Meanwhile, in the north of country, hundreds of people from the Daly River community have been evacuated from serious flooding by airlift to Batchelor and then by bus to Darwin, where the evacuees are being accommodated in the Foskey Pavilion at the Royal Darwin Showgrounds.

Sadly, it has been reported that at least one person has died in the floods.

Red Cross volunteers are managing the evacuation centre on behalf of the Northern Territory Government and are providing Register.Find.Reunite and psychological first aid services to people affected by the flooding. Two experienced evacuation centre managers from the Queensland Emergency Services team are assisting local teams in the management of the centre.

To help Red Cross provide valuable assistance in times of emergency and help people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters like the Surf Coast fires and Daly River floods, you can donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery work. Donations can be made online at redcross.org.au/disaster.

Emergencies like these can be extremely distressing and we encourage people to connect with their friends and family and to access Red Cross' recovery resources: redcross.org.au/recover.

With more extreme heat and disasters predicted for the summer, it's important to make sure you remain vigilant and are prepared for any emergency. Find out how to get prepared and make an emergency plan with Red Cross' free disaster preparedness guide at redcross.org.au/prepare.

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