What a month March was in terms of weather and what a huge effort by Red Cross people in responding from all over the country.
Following the fires in southeastern New South Wales, we have been providing psychosocial assistance at evacuation centres in Bega, Bermagui and Tathra (relief centre), through outreach in Tathra, and a recovery centre in Bega.
In Victoria, we have been at relief centres in Cobden, Warnambool and Terang. In Darwin, our teams provided psychological first aid to people affected by the cyclone through outreach activities, alongside police, fire, emergency services and Territory Families.
In northern Queensland, where the weather continues to cause problems, we provided evacuation centre support to Mt Garnet, recovery and outreach support in Innisfail and Ingham, and telephone outreach to people in Ingham.
Also, in Queensland, Cyclone Nora crossed the coast on Sunday 25 March as a category 3 storm, causing damage to communities on the west coast including Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama. We activated Register.Find.Reunite. as well as providing support in Pormpuraaw.
Although Western Australia and Tasmania have not been formally activated, teams have been busy delivering critical support services for activated states and territories making a large number of wellbeing calls to our deployed personnel. And coordinating it all has been the National Coordination Centre who continue to monitor the events and provide support where required.
This all represents an incredible effort by all involved. Let’s hope April is better.
I wanted to share with you a story from our emergency services team in Darwin where staff and volunteers have been helping people since Cyclone Marcus hit on 17 March.
Heather Prendergast is one of those volunteers. When she was called to help what was usually a 20-minute drive the Red Cross office took her an hour as she navigated tree-strewn roads. “The thing that has really struck me is the level of destruction a category two cyclone can cause,” she says. “There’s damage everywhere.”
Over the past few days, Heather has been knocking on the doors of homes in the cyclone-affected areas. Some people here have been without power for eight days. “We’ve seen an amazing neighbourhood spirit that I don't think we’ve seen before. You can see people supporting the elderly and cleaning up a perfect stranger’s house. The cyclone may have caused a lot of damage but it’s created a wonderful community spirit.”
Last Friday night the community of Port Pirie, a regional town two and half hours’ drive from Adelaide, were treated to a free movie night in a foreshore park thanks to a group of young Red Cross people.
Chloe McBride, Jake Tilley and Chloe Murray belong to the Port Pirie Red Cross Young Humanitarians Collective and want to bring the youth of the town together to do good in the community.
The group spent months making the movie night happen and were able to secure a council grant to pay for the equipment hire and the movie license, as well as free food from Woolworths.
The group choose Disney’s Moana for the event to highlight how young people – like the main character in the movie – can take action to help their community. The night was a great success with 80 to 100 people attending.