Queensland, Australia – Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) teams responded immediately in the aftermath of tropical Cyclone Yasi, which lashed the coastal region of Queensland, Australia, causing widespread devastation and destruction.
In the morning after Yasi struck, SAES teams served breakfast at Innisfail, which lost power and sustained severe damaged. Access was initially cut to the worst-hit communities along the coast but SAES teams went in as soon as the highway was reopened. Two Salvationists from Innisfail Corps (Salvation Army church) gained access to Tully on 5 February and fed 200 people. Teams from Cairns and Atherton assisted with catering to more than 600 people and a catering vehicle from the Sydney East and Illawarra Division was sent to the area to supplement the effort.
Townsville teams gained access to Cardwell on 6 February and a divisional catering truck was sent there.
‘A team from Newcastle is supplementing the work, and we also have evacuation catering taking place at nearby Tully Heads,’ said Major Rodney Walters, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army’s Central and North Queensland Division.
SAES teams also catered for residents and emergency services crews in Innisfail and Ingham until all evacuation centers had closed. The teams were then diverted to Tully Heads.
In Townsville, The Salvation Army’s Riverway Recovery Mission sustained some minor damage to the roof but SAES teams fed up to 150 people at the evacuation centers until power was restored and people could return home.
‘A Toyota Trooper and SAES trailer have been deployed to Townsville for four-wheel drive ability to reach remote communities with damaged roads,’ said Major Walters.
‘The relief effort has moved to clean-up,’ reports Major Bruce Harmer, manager at the recovery mission, ‘which we are doing in partnership with Townsville City Council. They give us the addresses of the elderly or people with disabilities who need assistance and we go there and do what is needed.’
Volunteers include residents from the recovery mission.
In Cairns, SAES teams fed emergency services crews and people at the evacuation centers. Minor damage was sustained to the front and back gates of The Salvation Army’s Centennial Lodge.
Envoy Simon Steele, The Salvation Army’s Flying Padre, has been keeping in contact with people living on rural properties, providing help and support as required.
‘Our teams and coordinators continue to provide incredible leadership and ministry in trying and difficult circumstances,’ said Major Walters. ‘Capacities are stretched, faith tested, resources coming, and our Almighty God is providing sustaining grace and mercy in abundant measure.’