Flood update: The latest word on the ground

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Adventist volunteers in action, including South Queensland Conference president Brett Townend (in white ADRA shirt).

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) volunteers and local Adventist church members are continuing to provide support to flood-ravaged communities in Queensland and north New South Wales.

The following statements come as the clean-up effort continues along Australia’s northeastern coastline in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.

Irena Larking, South Queensland ADRA director

“The South Queensland region was hit by Cyclone Debbie nearly two weeks ago, and no doubt it brought back concerns to many of the 2011 flood. It’s not until you go out and see some of the damage for yourself that you start to get a sense of how overwhelming this was for many people.

“Amongst all the destruction it is a real blessing and a relief to know that the impact on our church family was not as great as it could have been—praise God for answered prayers! A small but committed team carried out some clean-up work in the Logan Reserve area, and for that the family were very grateful. ‘We could not have done this without you—I want to give a donation to ADRA,’ one family member said.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and there is still more clean-up to be done. But with God’s Spirit leading and His faithful providence, I know that we will all come out of this together. Thank you all for your prayers and support—it is greatly appreciated.”

Tracy Hamilton, ADRA Australia program officer

“The floods have devastated the north New South Wales area. Some are saying that these are the worst floods to hit the region in 40 years. The community is working to clean up the mess, businesses are trying to get back on their feet and people are wanting to return to their everyday lives as soon as they can. 

“Our churches have been very active, particularly Lismore, Kyogle, Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and The Vine church plant. Church member volunteers are still working very hard in meeting the needs of the community in terms of helping with the clean-up and removal of damaged goods, providing and delivering meals, coordinating free furniture drop-offs, supplying clothing through op shops, offering financial assistance, and even helping with the repair of damaged homes and businesses. 

Food packs being prepared at Murwillumbah church.

“We have also had ADRA emergency management teams coordinating temporary accommodation for those in need within evacuation centres in Ballina, Lismore, Kingscliff and Murwillumbah. Word has spread about some of the amazing work our volunteer teams have been doing and they have been contacted by other community members who have been in need of assistance, and even the local councils.

“Right now we are moving from response to recovery with our churches in the area looking at longer-term initiatives and structures they can put in place to support their communities. ADRA is currently working with the churches through this process and has released funds to support this. There have also been opportunities to attend and participate in community meetings held by local councils to discuss and plan for further recovery.

“Despite the damage that has occurred, people have really been coming together and working together and it has been inspiring to see our churches involved through this time.”

Paul Geelan, NNSW Conference general secretary

“While there is a lot of pain and suffering in the Murwillumbah and Lismore communities at the moment, an opportunity has been created for the members of those local churches to demonstrate in a very powerful and practical way the message of the gospel. One man in the Murwillumbah area was helped by the local church and later disclosed that he is a former Seventh-day Adventist and had ‘just witnessed the most powerful sermon he has ever heard.’

“The Murwillumbah church and Tweed Valley Adventist College have both suffered extensive damage and will take a long time to repair and heal. Please pray for their journey ahead.”

The scene at Murwillumbah church in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.
The clean-up effort inside the Murwillumbah church.

Click here to support ADRA’s response to Cyclone Debbie. Your gift to ADRA’s Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund will support emergency response efforts all around Australia.

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