Rebuilding their shattered community
10 March 2014
“You see so many people still struggling, or who have become homeless after storms and two cyclones. Within the area nobody escaped.” – Linda
As part of the ongoing Salvation Army commitment to provide long-term support following Cyclones Larry and Yasi, a new Salvation Army Red Shield Family Store and centre has been established in Innisfail (Qld).
The centre is providing welfare support, referrals to counsellors, financial counselling, plus offers a range affordable goods to those in need. Linda, who is one of the new volunteer supervisors of the store and part-time welfare support officer, says the permanent Salvation Army presence in the area is essential.
“Our town still definitely needs so much help,” she says. “Many have lost homes, or face losing their homes, and some are still living in severely damaged houses.”
Like so many of their friends and neighbours, Linda and husband Victor suffered severe damage to their property after Cyclone Larry. They then spent years fighting to have their insurer undertake repairs.
The couple had previously experienced a freak flood, so when Cyclone Yasi hit in February 2011 they were already emotionally exhausted and financially drained.
Linda says, “I had also been in hospital for a simple operation and ended up having five micro strokes during the operation and had no balance and no sight. Then only a few months later we went through Cyclone Yasi.”
Living on the disability and carer’s pension (Victor struggles with Acquired Brain Injury), they were devastated to discover damage to pumps and a tractor on their property was not covered under insurance.
Ongoing Salvation Army disaster relief kept food on their table as they battled to pay their bills and replace equipment.
Linda says: “We were also given a wonderful holiday through a Salvation Army worker who shared their home with us.”
Despite her own struggles, Linda says she jumped at the opportunity, when asked to consider assisting The Salvation Army’s Gwen Hammerton* who had been organising recovery support in the area.
Linda, who together with Victor, recently became a Salvation Army ‘soldier’, had already faced a lifetime of pain prior to the disasters that included being abandoned as a baby and an horrific assault as a teen, and says: “I feel God’s given me the strength to be able to get to the point where I can help other people.”
She believes that lives may have already been saved through the new centre, with so many struggling with major depression and stress.
She says: “Just today one lady came in, who is also facing violence at home and needing welfare support. She was in tears and gave me a big hug and said ‘if it wasn’t for you people, I don’t know where I’d be’.”