I first discovered Disaster Relief Australia thanks to a work colleague who had recently joined. I am a civilian, however I felt that I could contribute as part of a wider team and do something to give back to communities experiencing hardship. Operation Dexter is my first deployment with DRA.
As a part of the first wave on site, we hit the ground running, packing utes and moving gear and supplies up north to our FOB at Rosedale, a community that was left devastated by bushfires in 2018. Even now, many months later the community is still healing from the blaze that destroyed over 75,000 acres of vegetation, houses, sheds, fencing and more.
Having taken the first two days to visit the residents and assess what assistance we could provide as a team, it is clear to see the residents of Rosedale and surrounds are tough as they come. The local residents have greeted us like old friends at the front gates to their properties, shared stories of survival with the team and painted a dark picture of the days when the fires edged closer and closer to their backyards.
We have heard how many residents stayed to defend their homes with little more than their tank water stores.
During this tumultuous time, it is amazing to hear how neighbours rallied together to save properties, machinery, and animals. Our damage assessment teams are working with local communities to lend a helping hand with clean up activities that were largely stalled with the Pandemic and lack of available funding to the area. DRA strike teams have immediately jumped in and commenced work orders relating to debris clean up involving our trained chainsaw teams clearing fallen and burnt trees with countless other work orders about to commence in the coming days.
Due to the emotions that are still quite raw, our crew of volunteers are taking extra time to pause and check in with the families, to listen and to lend a much needed helping hand.