Cyclone Debbie makes landfall in Australia
The Salvation Army is mobilizing teams with support of the Queensland State Government
By Christopher Priest –
The Salvation Army in Australia is providing assistance to those affected by Cyclone Debbie.
The storm, with winds over 160 miles per hour, made landfall in the north-eastern state of Queensland March 28, forcing thousands to evacuate.
The Queensland State Government has made a AUS$1 million contribution to four leading charities, a quarter of which is earmarked for The Salvation Army.
As the clean-up begins, Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) and disaster teams are working with local authorities to respond to the most immediate needs.
In the coastal town of Bowen, many trees have fallen and roofs have been ripped off houses.
“There is a lot of damage in the town,” said Envoy Heidi Grice of the Bowen Corps. “The family store has been damaged—there is flooding inside and the front fascia signage has been ripped off. There is also water all around the windows of the corps building and the guttering has been torn out of one side of the building.
“It was the first cyclone we’ve been in and we didn’t really know what to expect…We are still assessing the damage here.”
Heavy winds and rain continue to batter Mackay, where many homes are still without power.
“Trees and branches are down and the cane fields have been flattened,” said Lt. Steve Spencer, Mackay Corps Officer. “Cars that have been in accidents are on the side of the road. I sat at an intersection waiting for the lights to change and my car was shaking with the winds. Thunderstorms are now forming, which for this area means torrential rains. We aren’t out of this by a long shot.”
Major Peter Sutcliffe and a team from Rockhampton have made it through to Mackay, where they will wait to move into the worst-hit areas.
“We will be deployed north to Proserpine (where the strongest winds were measured) as soon as the roads open, although that may not be until Friday or Saturday,” he said. “Once the State Emergency Services, who are already working here, have their logistics in place, we will respond to their callout as well.”
SAES teams from Bowen will also join the deployment to Proserpine.
On its way north to Mackay, the Rockhampton team waited with other stranded motorists while a road accident was cleared.
“We checked with the police there and fired up our generator to serve tea, coffee and biscuits to those waiting,” Sutcliffe said. “We also gave the police hot coffee and refreshments, for which they were most appreciative. It was the least we could do to offer help on the side of the road.”
To support relief efforts, visit https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp. Donors living in Australia should visit salvos.org.au