The Anglican Parish of Mt Dandenong has set up an ongoing drop-in program for those impacted by last year’s storms and COVID-19 lockdowns. Image: Supplied.
24 June 2022
One year after storms tore through Kalorama, Mt Dandenong and surrounds, locals are taking stock of the ongoing impact on their communities.
Anglican Parish of Mt Dandenong parish council member Peter Adams said the church took it in their stride to offer help to those who were traumatised, had lost their homes or had their homes damaged by trees and debris.
Mr Adams said the parish opened the hall at St Michael’s and All Angels in Kalorama to serve the community.
“It’s amazing when the chips are down what people are prepared to do,” he said.
“Individually [we] couldn’t have done it.”
Mr Adams said the church partnered with the local Lions Association so that they could provide adequate assistance to everyone who came.
He said people donated money, food and clothing to the cause.
Mr Adams said that another Anglican clergy member donated a generator so they could offer heating and electricity from the hall.
He said people are still coming on Tuesday afternoons to the drop-in program begun after the storm.
“We’re in a sort of village atmosphere here and it’s important that the church remain in the community,” he said.
Mr Adams said that the storms had taught the parish the importance of responding to needs in the community.
He also said that the parish had found ways to distribute extra donated goods to other community groups who were in need across Melbourne.
He said their experience was an encouragement to those in other parishes who had also found numbers dwindling.
“The answer is you need to reach out,” he said.
“Try and listen to people to understand what their problems are and to offer help.
“The path to recovery is paved with resilience.”
Parishioner Wendy Berry’s house was severely damaged in the storm when a large tree fell across the front of it.
Ms Berry said the damage was still being repaired, with the current estimate for completion being 30 September.
She said she has been living in alternate accommodation since the storms occurred.
Ms Berry said the event was terrible and had turned her life completely upside down.
“My head knows that God is in control, but my heart is broken,” she said.
But she said the Anglican community had offered practical support within days of the storm.
She said that Bishop Paul Barker had visited those impacted, and Mt Dandenong parish vicar Reverend Andrew Smith and his wife Beth had opened the hall and volunteered to cook alongside the CFA.
She said she had also been allocated a personal caseworker from Anglicare who had been “absolutely fabulous”.
“The Anglican diocese here in Melbourne was wonderful,” she said.
“We had generators, food and clothing and it really helped to gel the community together.
“There are so many people who talk about how wonderful it was and how if it hadn’t been for the community, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
“I want to say a big thank you to the whole Anglican community [for] how we felt really supported through the ordeal that we went through.
“It really has been faith in action.”