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Kindness counts in bushfire recovery

20 August 2020

Kindness counts in bushfire recovery

The team's mobile vehicle visiting a property at Peak View, south-east NSW. Inset:one-on-one consultations are held inside the Salvos' mobile recovery vehicle.

The Salvation Army has been supporting communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires since the very beginning, with relief workers continuing to stand alongside affected communities.

Hazel and her partner met the Salvos after bushfires swept through their Cobargo property in south-east NSW earlier this year. They were forced to evacuate with nothing but a bag of clothes, some photographs and important documents. When they returned the following day, everything was gone.

“The fire came [towards us] at 11 at night, and by 4am the next morning the fire was here, and we had to evacuate,” she said. “Three-quarters of this shire was burnt. All of our property gone ... everything, all of our animals. Everything.”

Hazel’s story is a familiar one in this small Bega Valley Shire town.

Since early January, Hazel and her partner have been waiting to rebuild. Like so many other affected families and individuals, they received government and charitable grants, including a ‘loss of residence’ financial grant from the Salvos. This assistance is helping them get back on their feet.

The Salvation Army Bushfire Recovery Team is continuing to deliver mid to long-term support, which is especially needed now that bushfire-impacted communities are also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been a double-whammy,” said Hazel.

Though the pandemic has created further hardship and inconvenience for the Cobargo community, it has not halted the efforts of the Salvos team, which has been dealing with 50 to 60 grant applications a day.

The Salvos team has also recently gone ‘mobile’, driving donated vehicles 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 long-haul support they have received from both the government and organisations like the Salvos. “Every bit of help we have gotten has come from everyone’s kindness,” she said. “It blows our minds.”

– Grace Michael


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