Avondale University College offered emergency accommodation to those forced from their homes near midnight by the bushfire in Charmhaven on New Year’s Eve.
Sixteen adults, two children and a dog rested through the early hours of the morning on beds in the Andre and Watson Hall residences. “They were really thankful for the accommodation,” says Doug Cloete, the work health safety coordinator at Avondale.
He received a call from the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice about half an hour before the evacuees arrived. They were coming to the Lake Macquarie campus for processing in the Chan Shun Auditorium. With the closure of the Morisset Country Club, the auditorium is now the evacuation centre during disasters in the Cooranbong and Morisset area.
But finding temporary accommodation so early on a public holiday proved difficult, so Cloete offered the evacuees guest rooms in the residences. Two students working on campus over the break volunteered to make up the beds. “We did what anyone else at Avondale would have done and that’s to help those in need,” says Cloete.
Avondale also offered accommodation for a mother and daughter from the Batemans Bay area stranded in Lake Macquarie on January 3 because of the bushfires along the South Coast.
The university college remained available as an evacuation centre until the following day, January 4.