Community members from the bushfire-affected areas are benefiting from the help of more volunteers, with disaster relief agency Samaritan’s Purse having joined the recovery effort on Monday 3 June.
Representatives from Samaritan’s Purse have teamed up with the many volunteers currently helping in the recovery from community organisations including BlazeAid, Lions Clubs International, Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and Rotary Pakenham.
The new volunteers are joining the existing volunteers to do jobs including chopping and stacking wood, removing burnt fence posts and clearing fence lines, cleaning up garden waste, clearing smaller debris from properties and chainsaw work.
Local residents who would like to volunteer are invited to contact the bushfire recovery centre at Tonimbuk Hall to register their availability.
Cardinia Shire Mayor Cr Graeme Moore praised the efforts of the recovery volunteers and welcomed Samaritan’s Purse to Cardinia Shire.
“The volunteers currently on board have made great progress on the huge number of jobs that need to be done to help the community get back on its feet,” Cr Moore said.
“The extra help from Samaritan’s Purse volunteers over the coming weeks will be much appreciated by everyone.”
Rob Rolley, Deployment Manager for Samaritan’s Purse Australia and New Zealand, said the organisation was looking forward to working alongside the current volunteers.
“Samaritan’s Purse has brought a disaster relief unit on wheels, full of supplies and equipment. We’ve set up camp in Tynong North until 28 June,” Rob said.
“It will be a pleasure for us to support the great work the volunteers have been doing.”
Cranbourne Lion’s Club Internet branch president Shirley Higman, who has played an important role at the bushfire recovery centre since the start of March, said the existing volunteers were looking forward to the extra help.
“It’s great to have the Samaritan’s Purse crew on board and I’m sure that we’ll be able to achieve more as we work together,” Shirley said.
“The volunteer team would also love to hear from local residents who can spare a day or two to help out – there’s a range of jobs to do including office administration and outdoor work. If you are interested, please give us a call at the centre or just drop in.”
Cr Moore said that anyone affected by the bushfires should drop into the recovery centre.
“The volunteers and Council staff have teamed up to create a warm and welcoming space at the recovery centre.
“It’s the place to go to give and receive support, to have a few laughs and to get advice on recovery assistance and services,” Cr Moore said.
“As soon as you walk in, you will feel the warmth – from the people, and from the fireplace if the fire is lit! There’s also a free, tasty lunch served up to community members from fire-affected areas and volunteers every day between 12.30 and 1.30pm, and morning and afternoon tea is always on offer.”
The centre also has a tool library and a range of donated items for people from the fire-affected community.
Cr Moore said that while almost three months had passed since the fires, the road to recovery for those affected would continue indefinitely.
“It’s easy for people from the wider community to see the new growth on burnt trees and think the event has passed,” Cr Moore said.
“But unfortunately, people don’t bounce back from these disasters nearly as quickly as nature does. Rebuilding homes, businesses and livelihoods takes an enormous toll on people for months, and in some cases, years.
“Council now has a team of four dedicated bushfire recovery staff on board until March 2020,” Cr Moore said.
“Three sub-committees have also been formed to focus on environmental, social and local economy recovery.
“And the members of the Community Recovery Committee will soon be announced. As the most effective recovery is led by the community, this committee will play a very important role,” Cr Moore said.
“Council will keep working hard to support the impacted community and the many wonderful volunteers in the months and years to come.”