A Caring Commitment
14 October 2014
When Cathy Beauchamp watched as her community flooded while her house was still standing, safe in the next suburb, she felt she had to take action.
Goodna was one of the worse hit areas when floodwaters gushed through in January 2011, with more than 450 properties severely damaged. Today, one in 10 houses remain un-repaired.
From day one Cathy Beauchamp has been on the ground doing what she can to help her neighbours – delivering anything from a container load of bananas to rebuilding houses. She says: “I did whatever it took and it took 12 months of my life working all hours.
“I don’t know if my life will ever be the same.” The Salvation Army noticed Cathy’s outstanding community work in the local area and employed her to develop its local response strategy.
She is now The Salvation Army’s Flood Relief and Reconstruction worker. Partnering with a local builder she goes from house to house, assessing the damage and each family’s or individual’s needs: “I go with a local builder and we look at what needs doing, how much money the household received, where the shortfall is and what they require.”
Goodna residents, Cheryl and Peter, were left with nothing more than a flooded house frame. Peter was in and out of hospital, suffering severe emphysema. Through The Salvation Army and other local churches, Cathy was able to raise the funds needed to help the couple rebuild their home.
“I was picking colours for the house while the family was in hospital with Peter,” says Cathy.
Peter got to come home from hospital to see his new home but unfortunately died within two weeks. However he was happy to know his wife had a home again. “It’s not just a job, you become part of these people’s families,” explains Cathy.
As the anniversary date of the flooding came around, some residents were left shaken as they processed the past 12 months. Cathy, alongside Lifeline, banded together that week, door-knocking the area to let residents know that they were still standing with them.
Cathy says, a year on, the emotional needs of locals are starting to surface: “People that were coping last year are no longer coping. They’ve spent 12 months scrambling and getting their houses back on track, what now?
“And for others, practical things have slowed down and emotions have caught up.”
The Salvation Army together with Sony Australia are in the final stages of refurbishing a Youth and Community Centre that will provide a base for a range of much needed services for the Goodna area long into the future.
And Cathy Beauchamp’s not going anywhere: “I’m here for the long haul,” she says.