Community input and collaboration informs Salvos bushfire support
15 October 2020
Deputy Captain Peter Heward and his crew from the Bombala Fire Station, in the Monaro region of New South Wales, were working tirelessly on the front lines, when the Black Summer bushfires tore through.
“I was deployed at the top of Rockton Hill with my crew to defend a property, with the sound of dozers clanking on through the night pushing in containment lines, we prepared to stay and defend,” Peter recalls.
Peter and his crew worked through the day and night, taking rotated breaks to sleep while they defended their town from the surrounding fires.
“All through the night there was a low hungry growl and the occasional roar as the fires did their work,” he says.
Unwavering in their commitment to protect their local community, he and his crew persevered with their efforts for the next six weeks, until finally rain came and relieved them on 10 February.
But while Peter was protecting his community from the blazes, the fires claimed his own property, damaging his family’s home beyond repair.
“I felt fear of the future and mostly anger and determination that no one else in my town should have to experience this loss,” explains Peter. He reached out to The Salvation Army after his family and wider community were struggling to fully recover from the devastating impact the summer’s fires had left.
While Peter and his family received a bushfire financial grant from the Salvos, he particularly values the role Salvo bushfire recovery worker Robyn, has played in his community.
As a national organisation that is locally embedded, the Salvos not only understand their community – they are a part of it, which means they are often there before, during and after a disaster strikes.
Our teams listen to residents, businesses and local leaders about what support they need and how assistance or funds can best be used to help their communities rebuild.
“Robyn was just great, a really great person,” says Peter, who explained that Robyn helped him organise town meetings. This provided an opportunity for residents to not only share their stories and connect with one another, but also work together to formulate a plan for their community to recover and rebuild.
Seven months on from the fires, Peter and his family say there is still a long way to go, but things have started to move towards a more positive direction – he has had his property cleared and he continues to work with the Salvos.
“Thank you for all that you are doing, thank you for helping where you can, thank you for relieving some of our burdens on our journey to recovery,” says Peter