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Lifeline supports Mackay flood victims

Lifeline Counsellors sprung into action in Mackay after after a severe weather system dumped more than 600 millimetres of rain in just six hours cutting off power, forcing schools and businesses to close down and flooding 200 houses in one suburb alone.

Acting Lifeline Community Recovery Coordinator Richard Johnson said Lifeline activated the Community Recovery team in Mackay as soon as the extent of the disaster became obvious.

“Community Recovery counsellors are trained in psychological first-aid and their first priority is to provide counselling to those suffering the distress of evacuation,” Mr Johnson said.

As the water levels eased, Lifeline teams stretched out into the community to support businesses and residents and set up one-stop-shops in Community Recovery Centres.

Still exhausted after his recent work in the Belyanda shire, local Lifeline Counsellor Steve Davenport had to dig deep to find his second wind to help people affected by flood waters in his home community of Mackay.

Lifeline Community Care Queensland also brought in Community Recovery Officers from other parts of the state as local Lifeline staff members were affected by flood waters that inundated their homes.

The first Lifeline team arrived on Saturday morning and, after a thorough briefing, were dispatched to the Community Recovery Centres to attend to the psychological and emotional needs of the hundreds of people seeking to receive support as a result of their personal devastation.

After visiting the Community Recovery Centre Mr Johnson said he was overwhelmed by the high spirits and patience of the multitude of people as they waited to receive financial support from the Government officials.

Dispersed among them, however, were many people who were absolutely shattered by their loss.

“Men, women and children were sitting and weeping as the realisation of their losses began to settle” said Mr Johnson.

“It is very difficult for people to complete official forms and make decisions about their future when their emotions are raw and overpowering.

“The Lifeline team have been absolutely sensational in providing psychological first aid,” Mr Johnson said.

“I anticipate Lifeline Community Recovery teams will be active in Mackay for a couple of weeks to help residents and local business owners recover from the physical and emotional damage caused by the torrential rain,” Mr Johnson said.

Lifeline Community Recovery Public Relations Officer Anna-Maria Masci said the whole community can be very proud of the team of Lifeline counsellors who have put their own lives on hold to be available for others.

Chief Executive Officer for UnitingCare Queensland Ms Anne Cross reported that part of the BlueCare residential facility in Mackay was flooded and eighteen residents were temporarily accommodated in a part of facility that is on higher ground.

“Several staff and their families moved into the facility to maintain services, despite their own homes being flooded.

The Respite Centre and Domiciliary Centre were also flooded and BlueCare Staff providing home based services were on the road trying to maintain services.

Two LifeLine Community Care Opportunity Shops were flooded but material aide was provided from those shops that weren’t flooded.