Support and care for a natural disaster area
The ever-present Julie Greig, Uniting Church Peer Support team member, visited Forbes and Condobolin congregations on Sunday, 9 October to offer support and assistance to the flood-affected communities on behalf of the Synod. Recently Forbes has been declared a natural disaster area after the region was devastated by heavy rains.
- Related story Forbes Flood Coverage
Following Julie’s visit emergency funds of $2,000, as a first instalment, have been provided to each of the congregations this week from the Moderator’s disaster relief fund, to assist the communities in this time of hardship.
This is only possible thanks to the generosity of members and congregations who have already supported the fund this year.
- Related story “The Lachlan Rises”
Julie said of her visit to Forbes, “The lay leader taking the service was at church for the first time in three weeks. There were also two other elderly members there whose houses in town had been impacted by water, but both were in very good spirits.”
One member, a very sprightly 94-year-old woman, said, “My house has been flooded so many times it must be due to float away but I believe that God will keep it standing until I no longer need it, and then it will probably fall down.”
Following the service Julie met with Forbes congregation members over a cup of tea. “Their primary concern was for the farmers who will have lost everything,” said Julie.
In Forbes milk trucks are still unable to reach many places under water and the milk is being tipped down the drain. Hundreds of kilometres of fencing have been lost. Crops in the region were looking plentiful this year due to a great season of rain, however their tolerance for excessive water is quite low and they will now almost certainly fail after being inundated with rain. As this is a very big cropping area losses are expected to be in the millions of dollars.
Whilst stock losses are at this stage are largely unknown, until waters recede many farmers will need to hand feed their livestock at an additional cost many cannot afford.
“The congregation was unwilling to make too many decisions for the farming community until they had an opportunity to talk to their own farming families.
“They are hoping the farmers will be able to get to town in the next two weeks as the flood waters recede,” said Julie.
The water situation is exacerbated by Wyangala Dam still needing to release significant amounts of water daily. This is keeping river levels in the Lachlan River very high and people are worried about the future.
There is much work to be done and Julie will be busy in the coming weeks providing some immediate assistance and longer term help to get the community back on its feet.
The grant of $2000 will be converted to fuel and food vouchers to give to farming families to provide immediate relief.
Navigating flood waters to Condobolin
Julie also visited flood affected Condobolin which is about 100kms along the Lachlan Way from Forbes. The UAICC affiliated congregation at Condobolin meet in the Uniting Church building where Julie worshiped in for a number of years.
The Condobolin Church received a new lease of life in May 2014 when Macquarie Darling Presbytery generously handed over beneficial stewardship of the church and manse to the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) to be used in partnership with a local Aboriginal congregation; Freedom in Christ Ministries, led by Pastor Beth Wolfe.
The Presbytery has taken to heart the spirit of ‘Property for a Pilgrim People’. Former Condobolin members are delighted to see the church full once more, with many attending on Sundays.
“It was wonderful to see it full, especially of children. There were about 40-50 people there on Sunday afternoon,” said Julie.
Elders concerned for their evacuated families
After the service Julie spoke with some of the elders and those who had been impacted by the flood.
Willowbend Village is an Aboriginal housing area on the edge of town in the flood area. Ten families have been evacuated from the village, one of which attends Condobolin church.
There was also one family there who were unable to get back to Lake Cargelligo and who are stranded in Condobolin with only the clothes they stand up in. At the time of Julie’s visit they were sleeping in the back room of the church with two small children.
The elders were very concerned about the families who have been evacuated. Some are in motels and some are with relatives. The families who are in motels do not have access to cooking facilities and buying meals puts a financial strain on them.
The others are placing a financial strain on the families they are staying with. They have been told they will be out of their homes for a month or more.
The immediate grant of $2000 from the Moderator’s funds sent to the Condobolin congregation this week in response to Julie’s visit will also be turned into fuel and food vouchers for immediate relief.
Supporting the Synod Disaster Recovery Fund
Rev. Dr. Stephen Robinson Synod Disaster Recovery Coordinator said of the Synod’s response to the flood affected areas, “It’s gratifying to see the way chaplaincy has been valued by Disaster Welfare Services. Our DRCN chaplains have worked alongside Red Cross and Anglicare volunteers in organised outreach to people as the waters recede, and have been given referrals to those most needing care and conversation.”
“Peer support (offered in this instance by Julie Greig as part of the Synod team) is so important. The congregations in affected areas need to know that they will be upheld by the Synod, in personal and practical ways as well as financially and through prayer, as they minister in these difficult circumstances.”
If you would like to make a secure donation to the Synod Moderator’s Appeal and assist the Forbes and Condobolin communities recover from the floods you can give here
All donations will be gratefully received but are not tax deductible.
Helping hand for a young mother in need
During her visit, UAICC’s Pastor Beth Wolfe at Condobolin Church made Julie aware of a personal tragedy alongside the flood disaster and the heartbreaking story of a house fire.
Jaye is a young mother with two small children aged 5 and 1. In the last week her house burnt down leaving them with nothing. Her mother had just moved to Condobolin to be with the family so she also lost everything in the fire even her walking frame. All of this on top of dealing with floods has stretched this young family to the limit.
The local congregation don’t have many funds but they are helping where they can.
If you would like to help Jaye and her family you can safely deposit money directly into the Condobolin Church’s bank account. Please make sure you label it “Jaye” and Pastor Beth will make sure it goes directly to Jaye’s family.
Condobolin Freedom of Christ Church (BSB: 062522 Account: 10102700)
Donations towards Jaye’s family are separate from the Moderator’s appeal as it is technically not a disaster related situation. Your donations will however be gratefully received.
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