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February 2011 - Cyclone Yasi 10/02/2011

10 February 2011

Salvation Army emergency services teams responded immediately in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Yasi which lashed the far northeast coast of Queensland on the 2nd and 3rd of February, causing widespread devastation and destruction.

In the morning after Yasi, Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) teams were serving breakfast at Innisfail, which lost power and sustained severe damages.

Access was initially cut to the worst hit townships along the coast, but SAES teams were preparing to go in there as soon as the highway was re-opened. Two Salvation Army members from Innisfail gained access to Tully on 5th February and fed 200 people. Teams from Cairns and Atherton are now assisting with catering to over 600 people and a catering vehicle has been sent to supplement the effort.

Townsville teams gained access to Cardwell on 6th February and a divisional catering truck has been sent there. “A team from Newcastle is supplementing the work, and we also have evacuation catering taking place now at nearby Tully Heads,” said Major Rodney Walters, Divisional Commander, Central and North Queensland Division.

SAES teams also catered for residents and emergency services crews in Innisfail and Ingham until all evacuation centres had closed. The teams were diverted to Tully.

In Townsville, some minor damage to the roof of The Salvation Army Riverway Recovery Mission was sustained. SAES teams there fed up to 150 people at the evacuation centres until power was restored and people could return home.

“A Toyota Trooper and SAES Trailer have also been deployed to Townsville for 4WD ability to reach remote communities with damaged roads,” said Major Walters.

“The relief effort has also moved to clean up, which we are doing in concert with the Townsville City Council,” said Major Bruce Harmer, Manager at the Recovery Mission. “They give us the addresses of the elderly or people with disabilities who need assistance and we go there and do what is needed,” he said.

The volunteers include residents from the Recovery Mission.

In Cairns, SAES teams fed emergency services crews and people at the evacuation centres. Minor damage was sustained to the front and back gates of The Salvation Army’s Centennial Lodge.

Envoy Simon Steele, Flying Padre for the Outback Flying Service,  has been keeping in contact with those on rural properties between the coast and Mt Isa, and in the Gulf region, and providing help and support as required.

“Our teams and coordinators have and are providing incredible leadership and ministry in trying and difficult circumstances,” said Major Walters. “Capacities are stretched, faith tested, resources coming, and our Almighty God is providing sustaining grace and mercy in abundant measure.”

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