Salvos support Cobargo through bushfire recovery
27 July 2020
The Salvation Army has been supporting communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires since the very beginning, delivering hope and support where it has been needed most. Though the fires have stopped burning, The Salvation Army continues to stand alongside communities for the long haul.
Hazel and her partner first came in contact with The Salvation Army when bushfires swept through their Cobargo property earlier this year. Hazel was forced to evacuate her home with nothing but a bag of clothes, some photographs and important documents. When she returned to the property with her partner the following day, everything was gone.
“The fire came to ours at 11 at night, and by 4am the next morning the fire was here and we had to evacuate out of town,” said Hazel
“Three quarters of this shire was burnt. All of our property gone, everything, all of our animals. Everything.”
Hazel’s story is, unfortunately, far too common in her town of Cobargo in the Bega Valley Shire, New South Wales, where many families and individuals had lost nearly everything during the 2019-20 bushfires.
Since early January, Hazel and her partner have been staying in the spare bedroom of one of her yoga students, as they wait to rebuild their property. Like so many other affected families and individuals, Hazel had received government and charitable grants, including a loss of residence financial grant from The Salvation Army, that is helping Hazel and her partner to restore their home and property.
“We are slowly rebuilding again,” said Hazel.
“We received a lot support from The Salvation Army initially and a lot of support from them now too”.
When the Bushfire Disaster Appeal was launched on 9 November 2019, The Salvation Army knew that its services and programs would be needed for the long haul.
The Salvation Army is currently delivering mid-long-term recovery support, which has been especially needed by bushfire impacted communities also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has affected the community, there are a lot of people that haven’t been able to move on from it,” said Hazel.
“It’s been a double whammy.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has created further hardship and inconvenience for the Cobargo community, it has not halted the efforts of The Salvations Army’s Bushfire Recovery Team.
Shane Mehew, who leads a team of phone assessors as part of The Salvation Army’s Bushfire Recovery Team, said the team were particularly busy during this mid-long-term recovery stage, as they assessed 50-60 grants every day.
“Coming into Phase Two [bushfire grants] has been very busy,” said Shane.
“Not so much COVID-19 related, but the need for community members to reach their recovery goals following the [immediate] impact of the bushfires.”
The Salvation Army is committed to helping individuals and families like Hazel and has also adapted how it supports people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outreach workers form the Bushfire Recovery Team have gone ‘mobile’, driving donated Winnebagos to regional and rural areas impacted by the bushfires.
Hazel and her partner hope to be in their new home soon and are thankful for the support they have received, from both the government and charitable organisations like The Salvation Army.
“Every bit of help we have gotten has come from everyone’s kindness.” said Hazel.
“All of you that help put that together and are on the ground trying to help us, it blows our minds.”