Disaster Recovery

Bushfire Recovery

Fire has been part of the Australian landscape since time began and part of ourway of life from the earliest times of human settlement when the first Australians used it a tool for managing the environment. It has been both a great friend and terrible enemy. We in Victoria are well familiar with the latter having seen its latest and most dreadful manifestation in February 2009 when it exploded across the landscape of southern Victoria leaving death and devastation in its wake. Marysville was no more, nor was Kinglake West as with a host of other communities and farms after the week of searing temperatures and the ensuing explosion that was the bushfire or rather a series of them. 135 dead, hundreds of homes destroyed, productive land laid charred and bare.

As with other fire disasters, the response was swift and generous and, as ever, Rotary was there raising funds, coordinating activities, lending a hand whether it was helping to clean up Moira Kelly's Open Door Rotary Farm or joining Blaze Aid to rebuild farmers' fences so that they could restock. This was just some of the wonderful help that we were able to join the community in supporting.

As with all disasters though, it doesn't end with the emergency relief measures, the rebuilding and rehousing and the clean up. As the vivid television images fade away, the pain remains for those who were traumatised and will do so for many years if not for life. This is where Rotary must stay involved to help with programs that offer support such as counselling and rebuilding communities.
PP David Redfearn (Deanne)
Rotary Club of Moreland
Member Disaster Recovery Committee

Cyclone, Earthquake, and Tsunami Recovery

Cyclones, Hurricanes and Typhoons
They are all the same weather phenomenon.
Scientists just call these storms different things, depending on where they occur.
The ingredients for these storms include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.
  • In the Atlantic and northern Pacific, the storms are called "hurricanes".
  • In the northwestern Pacific, the same powerful storms are called "typhoons".
  • In the southeastern Indian Ocean and southwestern Pacific, they are called "tropical cyclones".
Earthquakes and Tsunamis
We are fortunate that our ancient continent of Australia is very stable geologically and less prone to dangerous earthquakes but this is not so for many of our neighbours in the Pacific and other more distant countries. The famous Ring of Fire, which encircles the Pacific, is a zone of both volcanic and seismic activity, something that was recently manifested in the disastrous earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan with the Japanese one taking a terrible toll in human life as a result of the huge tsunami which followed. New Zealand was less unfortunate although the image of the crumbled cathedral spire in Christchurch is a dramatic symbol of the terrible destructive power of earthquakes. In 2010, on the other side of the world, we witnessed the devastation of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince in a very poor country with already minimal and overtaxed infrastructure leading to 220,000 deaths out of 2 million people in the affected area, many of whom were left injured, destitute and homeless.

As with all disasters, the emergency response is always generous and rapid but the recovery in the aftermath with the rebuilding of lives and homes can take many years especially where there is immense poverty.
Rotary can once again step in here and work with the many other agencies providing assistance. It may help individuals with medical support, raise funds or provide support through the valuable crisis response programs such as Aquabox, Disaster Aid Australia and Shelterbox. In the case of a country like Haiti, a Shelterbox may well become a home for a lengthy period as can be seem with the images of the "Shelterbox City" in Port-au-Prince.
Lindsay Jolley
Rotary Club of Bright
Chair District Disaster Recovery Committee
Email: disasterrelief@rotary9790.org.au

Flood Recovery

A land of droughts and flooding rains!!
Dorothea Mackellar, in her famous poem "My Country", referred to Australia as a land of "of droughts and flooding rains". This has very much entered our national psyche and was more than reinforced over the last decade when we dealtwith both on a scale not seen for many years.

Who will ever forget those images of wrecked cars and the debris fromshattered buildings trapped on the railway bridge at Grantham to remind us of the destructive force of the waters that roared down on that unfortunate town leaving 22 deaths in its wake. Who will ever forget the scenes of dust storms, dead animals and parched landscapeswe were seeing on the nightly news not so very long before that. We have lived, live and will continue to live with these sorts of extremes.

And it is not just in our backyard. Our brothers and sisters in Pakistan suffered terrible floods leaving thousands dead and millions homeless during the summer of 2010 as a rogue weather system swept across the sub continent.
There may be much debate about the nature of the magnitude of these disasters but a number of things are for certain, they have happened and will happen again bringing much heartbreak and major disruption requiring a response from those of us who have been fortunate enough not to suffer them. What must also be remembered is that the pain from these disasters can endurefor many years so we must continue to always respond well and generously, not only to the immediate crisis but also to the lingering pain and suffering that can occur when the spectacular images on our TV screens fade away.

This is the challenge that Rotary faces and we have always risen to it with generosity and compassion whether it be dispatching an Aquabox, coordinating community fundraising or even rolling up our sleeves to help directly.
PP David Redfearn (Deanne)
Rotary Club of Moreland
Member Disaster Recovery Committee