Flood Recovery in District 9780

Rotarians from throughout Victoria have been in touch with offers of assistance to Victorian flood affected areas, many of which are in District 9780. It has been a gratifying response, if a little overwhelming for Rotarians in flood affected areas. In formulating District 9780's response and plans in consultation with DG Jessie Harman a number of key points have become clear. These are summarised below together with our plans, recommendations and further explanation.
  1. The number of calls from in and outside of Rotary to Rotarians on the ground has for some been overwhelming and difficult to manage.
  2. Rotary is not a first response recovery agency, unlike Red Cross and others.
  3. Immediate clean-up work is being adequately (for the most part) managed with local area volunteers and agencies already in place.
  4. Donations of goods are mostly unwelcome.
  5. Rotary volunteers will have an important role for months to come.
Under official emergency management guidelines, local government is the lead agency during the recovery phase. District 9780 is contacting all local shires to learn where Rotary can help. We plan wherever possible to work with local Rotary Clubs to identify projects and needs in a manner which avoids putting pressure on them. www.ruralsupport.org a website has been established to help manage and mobilise Rotary volunteers. Rotarians and Friends of Rotary can indicate where, when and how they can help. The site records details for insurance purposes, allows decentralised working bee administration and distribution of briefing notes to assist volunteers to be safe and effective. The site is new and will continue to be refined.

We ask Rotary Clubs everywhere, whether in District 9780 or not, to consider the following approach:
  1. Volunteer Working Bees. Discuss where and how your club might help and register at www.ruralsupport.org. This will spare local Rotarians in flood affected communities having to deal with multiple enquiries particularly in this initial period.
  2. Financial Donations. In addition to contributing individually to various official appeals (e.g. The Victorian Premier's Flood Appeal), we ask clubs to set aside funds to support projects as they are identified. Needs will emerge as initial government assistance and insurance assessment and payouts run their course.
  3. Donations of Goods. Determine a specific need before embarking on collecting goods. Be sure your generosity will not harm local business nor place a burden on recipients through transport, storage, distribution or waste disposal costs and effort. Specialised items will be needed, but it is best to wait until they become known.

Rob Pelletier, Chairman,
District 9780 Rural Support Committee
Lindsay Jolley
Rotary Club of Bright
Chair District Disaster Recovery Committee
(H) (03) 5759 2763
(M) 0416 192 032
Email: disasterrelief@rotary9790.org.au