June: Disaster

Insights was overwhelmed by material for this month’s feature articles on disaster recovery.

There were far too many good stories to include.

That’s mainly because this Synod has an amazing disaster recovery story to tell. Thanks principally to the leadership of Stephen Robinson, we have a growing number of people with the training and experience to respond appropriately in disaster situations. And we are sharing this knowledge with other synods and denominations.

We have people who know what needs to be done, who can identify where problems exist and who are working to develop a strategy that can apply across the nation.

Of course, with drought, floods and fires ever threatening, we must remain vigilant. Some of our communities seem to be in a perpetual state of disaster recovery. We need to train more people, encourage more peer support, and prepare our congregations and communities for the best response when disaster strikes. And in the aftermath.

When we hear reports like that of Dorothy Creek about the Lockhart flood in March 2012:

– where after three days of unseasonal rain the Brookong Creek, which passes through the small Riverina township, became a raging torrent;

– where homes and businesses had up to a metre of water wash through them;

– where water came with such force that it snapped a walking bridge, eroded the railway tracks and broke part of the railway bridge;

– where roads were damaged or completely washed away;

– where residents, flooded out of their homes in October 2010 and only back in their homes for two or three months, were devastated again;

– where farm fences were washed down and stock drowned …

In such situations people will ask, “Where is God in this?”

Karyl Davison says it is natural for people to wonder, “Has God abandoned us?”

But she encourages us to remind people that, while it might feel that God has abandoned us, God is present in the crisis.

“We believe in a God of love and compassion as modelled by Jesus the Christ.

“God’s presence is made known in the friends and neighbours who help out without even being asked; in the work of the emergency workers, the people donating money and goods, the organisations caring for people who’ve been evacuated, the people who listen to stories of loss and grief and in many, many more ways.”

She says you too can be part of God’s presence. You can be the hands, the feet, and the ears of God at this time when we are all staggered by the enormity of what’s happened.

“When the media attention has gone, the emergency and response workers have left and the rest of life seems to return to routine, there will still be people who need you to be God’s presence for them. Be with them, walk with them, listen, cry and laugh with them.”

Visit www.nsw.uca.org.au/disaster-response/ and read Griffith Review 35, a tribute to those who survived and those who succumbed to random and catastrophic acts of man and nature.

Stephen Webb

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