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Tides and offerings

Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve, Chuwar, Queensland. Photo by Lewis Yu www.gospelstudio.com.au
THE ENORMOUS clean up is well under way in Central and South-East Queensland and the Downs Presbytery after the region experienced the worst flooding in 30 years.

Thousands of volunteers have turned out to scrape mud off flood affected properties. Volunteers also fed those cleaning.

Long road to recovery

Despite tragedy communities have banded together on the long road to recovery. Downs Presbytery Minister Sharon Kirk said some places will find that harder than others.

“Our communities will put themselves back together again, but they will never be the same.”

As lines of communication reopen, the human cost of this tragic event is coming to light. It is in this area that perhaps the churches will need to assist their communities most. The Crows Nest congregation, north of Toowoomba, is grieving the deaths of two of its members. The St. Stephen’s congregation in Toowoomba is grieving the death of one member.

A number of ministry agents have been sent to the Lockyer region and South-East Queensland to assist in community recovery and to support local congregations.

Lifeline Community Care Queensland has also sent counselling staff to grieving communities. UnitingCare Queensland CEO Anne Cross said 95 staff had been sent to flood affected communities throughout the state to provide psychological first aid.

Flood appeal

To date the Lifeline Flood Appeal has raised over $340,000 for their Community Recovery Program which is designed to provide support to individuals and communities affected by disasters or other significant events. The program aims to make an immediate impact on the trauma and stress experienced by communities through counselling, as well as spearheading longer term recovery through a coordinated approach to rebuilding or re-establishing key community networks and support structures.

The Wesley Hospital in Auchenflower, Brisbane, continued to care for patients and staff while being virtually inaccessible for four days, with only pedestrian access via a local railway station.
By noon on Thursday 27 January, the Queensland Synod was aware of 82 Uniting Church properties that have been damaged due to floods. The properties are located throughout the State from Central Queensland to the South-East corner.

Church property damaged

Uniting Church property and insurance officers said the damage has been from flooding which started just after Christmas and has continued in other parts of the State until early January.
Affected properties include: 6 Lifeline retails stores and 4 Lifeline properties; 6 Wesley Mission Brisbane premises including a commercial kitchen at Moorooka and a social enterprise at Rocklea; 48 Blue Care facilities; 7 Uniting Church congregation properties including churches, halls and manses; 5 hospital properties and enterprises; and damage to a youth centre, 2 university colleges and one of our schools. Several vehicles have also been damaged by flood waters.

While the Synod office in Auchenflower was cut off for two days, the building was not flooded and staff were sent home to avoid getting cut off from family.

Around the State

In Central Queensland the effects of rain and flooding also mean the loss of crops and stock in yet another blow for Australia’s farming community. Uniting Churches throughout the State have been working with other churches and organisations to provide for affected communities.

In Central Queensland members from the Banana and Biloela congregations are just two of the groups to provide assistance in Theodore. People from all over the State have travelled to Chinchilla, Emerald and Rockhampton to provide support and a helping hand.

In Brisbane’s western suburbs the Moggill Uniting Church was set up as an evacuation centre providing food and company for many people in the suburbs of Moggill, Bellbowrie and Anstead which were cut off for four days. Many residents were without power for over a week.

The Sherwood Uniting Church and hall provided short-term emergency accommodation. Congregation members were also organising food and bedding for people in need in their community.
The Wellers Hill-Tarragindi Uniting Church, around 7kms south of Brisbane’s flooded CBD, was just one of the many church groups who registered as volunteers with Volunteering Queensland and partnered with their local evacuation centre to provide bedding, food and a friendly face.

Many church groups were also instrumental in clean up efforts and supporting volunteers.

And from Ipswich to Toowoomba and beyond congregation members have been working hard to restore a kind of normality to life. 

To date the Uniting Church in Australia Flood Appeal has raised over $119,000 for flood affected communities all over the country.

The Assembly has donated $50,000 from its Disaster Relief Fund to assist this important work and many Synods have also offered financial assistance.

While people carry on with the clean up, the pain of this event will be felt for years to come.

To donate to The Uniting Church in Australia Flood Appeal  click here.

Photo : Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve, Chuwar, Queensland. Photo by Lewis Yu www.gospelstudio.com.au