This week we mark one year since the June 2021 storm, which caused widespread damage across the Macedon Ranges, and other parts of Victoria.
In the days immediately after the storm, people were trapped on their properties without power or mobile coverage for days or weeks, and hundreds of trees down across roads in the shire cut off people’s ability to move about as they usually would.
Covid-19 restrictions at the time also meant many people’s usual support networks of friends and family could not come up from Melbourne to help with clean-up, increasing the sense of isolation.
Over 1,400 residents registered with Council as having experienced some form of damage from the June storm.
Bernie O’Sullivan, Macedon Ranges Shire CEO, said that as well as hearing about the devastation, we also heard about our community going above and beyond for each other.
“I’d like to acknowledge the strength of our communities in the Macedon Ranges and the care they showed for each other,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“We heard about locals jumping on chainsaws to clear not only their own driveways, but those of their neighbours in order to help. And we heard about neighbours checking in on those who didn’t have family locally, to ensure they were okay and that someone was looking out for them.”
Mr O’Sullivan said that recovery continues for both Council and private landowners, and acknowledged this will continue for some time.
“Recovery is ongoing and people are at different stages of their recovery. Some residents have completed their clean-up but others still have large trees down on their properties, some are working on repairing fences and getting business back to normal, and we know some people are working on repairing and rebuilding homes.”
Council continues to advocate on behalf of residents and provide support.
While our recovery is ongoing, we have reached some significant milestones:
- We have seen over 160 private properties in our shire receive assistance from the Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) Residential Clean-Up program.
- We are grateful to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing who have provided funding for social recovery programs and workshops like Mental Health First Aid for volunteers.
One of the challenges for clean-up efforts in the Macedon Ranges, and across Victoria, after the 9 and 10 June storm has been the size and number of trees that came down in the severe storm event
In partnership with BRV, our Romsey site helps to overcome these challenges by operating with local crews and specialist equipment.
The Romsey facility has allowed us to not only clear and process storm waste faster and on an enormous scale, but up-cycle waste into products which benefit our community.
Since its creation, the Romsey site has so far:
- Supplied ten different Men’s Sheds across six shires with timber for their community projects (Woodend Men’s Shed have used milled timber to craft over 100 nest boxes for storm affected residents who want to support native animal habitats in their own backyards).
- Created 50 kilometres of fencing supplies, as well as retaining wall sleepers, for local residents and primary producers across the worst storm-affected farms and communities.
- Milled 11,500 stakes for Council tree planting programs, saving thousands of dollars.
- Created free firewood for residents.
- Given free firewood to vulnerable members of our community, delivered to their homes.
- 90 truckloads of root balls to enhance fish breeding habitat within rivers and water systems across 10 different water catchment authorities.
- 225 cubic metres of sawdust delivered to local pig farmers.
- Processed 180,000 cubic metres of mulch, with free mulch available at transfer stations.
One year on from the devastating storms, recovery projects continue.
To support ongoing storm recovery efforts, a free mental health event will be held on the evening of Wednesday 15 June at the Woodend Community Centre.
‘Where are We Now? A Storm Recovery Conversation’ is a community information evening focussed on meeting the needs of storm-affected residents of the Macedon Ranges Shire. Disruption, stress, delays, fatigue, uncertainty about the future, and a realisation that there is still a lot of work to do, are all experiences that ring true for some residents.
You can register your interest to join this session facilitated by David Younger – Clinical & Consultant Psychologist, and an expert in the area of natural disasters and emergencies.
It’s not unusual for people affected by emergencies to experience distress (e.g. feelings of anxiety and sadness, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, irritability or anger and/or aches and pains).
Often volunteer and community organisations are at the forefront of community response and recovery after a severe weather event, and so thanks to the Department of Families Fairness and Housing, we are offering volunteers within the Macedon Ranges free Mental Health First Aid Training.
Each year one in five Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. MHFA teaches people the skills to help someone who they’re concerned about.