7 July 2022

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Some churches suffer storm damage twice, recovery project launches

By Stephen Cauchi

5 November 2021

A RECOVERY project will help the state rebuild from devastating floods and storms in June, which also hit churches in some areas hard.

The Anglican Church’s community services agency Anglicare has launched the Eastern Storm Recovery Project to help the state rebuild from the damage.

The June storms caused massive damage in the Dandenong Ranges as trees felled by strong winds destroyed dozens of homes and wrecked the electricity grid. 

Anglican churches around the Dandenongs helped with relief efforts after the June storms. They provided shelter, gas and electricity and served as collection points for donated groceries, blankets, and other essential items. 

The vicar of the Anglican parish of Mt Dandenong, the Reverend Andrew Smith, told The Melbourne Anglican that residents were still “heavily stressed and traumatised” by the June storms.

The October winds caused further damage although not too much.

Read more: Earthquake damage to churches hits near $1 million, storm bill yet to be known

“Several of the hardest hit streets from June were again affected with more trees down and there are several streets that have yet to have the power restored one week on,” Mr Smith said.

Rebuilding since the June storms had been slow but steady.

“There are still large trees lying everywhere but they are slowly being cleared,” Mr Smith said.

“The sound of chainsaws and logging trucks [is] continuing to be the new sound of the mountain.

“A large number of properties continue to be covered in tarpaulins and reconstruction work is only just now beginning on some of them. Delays with insurance and building supplies are probably the main reason for this.”

Mr Smith said the parish church had continued to be a hub for food relief and support. Anglicare had secured funding for case workers to support storm affected households for 12 months, he added.

The Macedon Ranges, along with the Dandenong Ranges, was also hit by the severe storms in June.

The vicar of Gisborne Parish, Father Dennis Webster, said he was unable to assess damage from the October storm as he was self-isolating due to COVID cases in the area.

Mr Webster said there was still clear traces of the damage from the 9 June storm.

“There’s still a lot of roads closed, there are still houses which are repairing their roofs, even now.

“Everywhere you drive it’s still a lot of trees lying on the side of the road.”

Mr Wester said the Mt Macedon Memorial Cross, on the top of the Macedon Ranges, had only just recently opened after being shut for months.

Sanatorium Lake, also in the Macedon Ranges, remained closed, he said. 

Gippsland Bishop Richard Treloar said his region suffered damage in parts.

“There were a few places where the wind gusts got up above 100 km/h and here in Sale there were a lot of trees down,” he said.

“We haven’t had any reports of damage to church properties but it was pretty wild weather and the power was out for a long time.

“It was hit and miss. Some places were quite calm, other places were horrendous. There are quite a few trees down over farms.”

Gippsland had recovered reasonably well from the massive flooding that hit the region in June, he said.

“It was pretty distressing at the time, but the effects haven’t been too long lived. There’s still a bit of mopping up but everything’s in reasonable shape,” he said.

There was still floodwater in parts of the region, but no lasting damage, he said. “There was a bit of nuisance value to a couple of church buildings but that’s all under control.”

According to the Eastern Storms Recover Project’s webpage, 174 households are still in desperate need of help.

“Families in Mount Dandenong and surrounding areas desperately need help as they try to recover and rebuild from the disastrous storms that swept through the region in June this year,” it reads.

“It was news at the time, but months later, public attention has moved on. However, many people in the region are still struggling to rebuild their lives. These forgotten Victorians need our help.”

Donate to the Eastern Storm Recovery project at: anglicarevic.org.au/donation/emergency-appeal/

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