Gippsland residents have been hit hard over recent years. Below average rainfalls, the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-20 summer, the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently catastrophic flooding. The floods caused mass evacuations, downed trees, and collapsed power lines, all greatly impacting on the freedom of movement, restriction of communication and generally hampering the recovery effort. Disaster Relief Australia can usually deploy a nationwide volunteer workforce to aid disaster impacted Australian communities. The continuing Covid restrictions mean only DRA volunteers within the Melbourne region (outside of Melbourne Metro) are able to help with this latest disaster. Melbourne Disaster Relief Team Manager Kyran Byrne is eager to get his team out this weekend for service project Vic Assist to bring help and hope where it’s needed most. “As a veteran-led volunteer organisation, it is a great honour to help The Path of Horse”. The Trentham based charity provides equine therapy to vets, emergency services personnel and their families. DRA will clear felled trees and debris which are currently blocking transport and vehicle access routes.
Disaster Relief Australia (DRA), conducted a flood recovery operation in the area of the Port Macquarie – Hastings and Mid Coast Council areas named Operation Elliot, commencing on 10 April 2021.
Peta Pinson is the first woman elected to the role of Mayor in the region of Port Macquarie-Hastings, NSW. For her first term in office, she has witnessed two fires, an ongoing pandemic and is now overseeing the recovery of her community after the devastating one-in-a-100-year floods of March 2021. Mayor Pinson with Disaster Relief Australia volunteers Mayor Pinson dedicated an entire day to volunteer with Disaster Relief Australia. She wanted to see firsthand the work of DRA in her flood-impacted community. Mayor Pinson arrived at the Wauchope Showgrounds for the morning brief and instantly bonded with the teams. Arriving at the Smith’s family home on a 320-acre beef farm in Lower Pappinbarra it was all hands on deck to clear flood debris piled high along fences, trees and sheds. Mayor Peta Pinson clearing flood debris with Nicole Richards from Disaster Relief Australia The Mayor worked alongside DRA volunteers to bring the Smith family some relief from the constant reminders of flood debris strewn across their property. She noted “The difference that I saw made in just the one day I’ve been with DRA, it put me in the driver seat, gives me an insight into the hard and vital work that they do. This is the absolute truth, the entire DRA team, their generosity and what they’ve brought to the Port Macquarie Hastings region through what has been one of the biggest crises that our region has faced, I am in absolute awe. I cannot stress how important it is for our community to continue assisting the families in the Valley and Lower Pappinbarra.” The before and after of clearing flood debris off fences that are situated nearly 200 metres back from the Pappinbarra River Industrial-sized cable fencing and metal poles only installed weeks before the floods had washed up along the riverbank over 300 metres. Property owner Heather remarked the repairing the vital farm infrastructure would have taken ‘weekends’ and ‘weekends’ worth of work. It was completed with the DRA teams and Mayor Pinson in under two hours. In true DRA style, the teams worked alongside the property owners, Harvey and Heather, returning a sense of normality and lifting their spirits in the joint comradery of teamwork. As the day drew to a close, Mayor Pinson said s “Apart from the seriousness of what we are doing, we all got to know each other, share some laughs and learn new skills”.