There is no respite for residents and businesses in Southeast Queensland and northern NSW as thunderstorms continue to batter the coastline, raising fears of significant coastal erosion. Water levels in various places continue to rise, forcing more evacuations.
In bad news for those experiencing storms and flooding, the Bureau of Meteorology is reporting ongoing significant rainfall for the next eight days!
'Possessions can be replaced but human life can't,' says Lismore pastor from the floods
Eternity caught up with Dave Winter, Senior Pastor of Centre Church in Lismore, about what it’s like in the ravaged town right now. Not surprisingly, Dave struggled to capture the enormity of loss people are facing.
“It’s really hard to explain just how bad it is, to even find the words,” he said.
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“You drive down a street and it’s just piles of rubbish on either side – from people just chucking stuff out of their houses; in the main business block in town every business has lost everything they have. We have lost probably $300,000 in gear and probably our floor has all lifted.”
“When it was looking like a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, it just totally wiped out the town.” – Dave Winter
When asked how locals were managing, as he talked with people, “Well, there’s not a real lot of talking to people. There’s more like hugging and crying.
“People cannot express their emotions, you know. It’s just hard to explain when we’ve gone through a 2017 flood and we’ve struggled through two years of COVID and now, all of a sudden, when it was looking like a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, it just totally wiped out the town. You just can’t get your head around that.
“In one sense, I’m lucky because I’ve been through a period of my life where we lost everything, just walked out with our own personal belongings. So I can relate to the anguish and the pain and the confusion, and ‘life’s ended as we know it’, but it’s not ended as God always comes through – God’s always in control. The verse in the Bible that always sticks with me – and always has ever since I went through a loss – is knowing that God never leaves you or forsakes you.
‘And so from a faith point of view, I can say that I can relate. I can say, ‘I know all the feelings, the anxiety and the pain you are going through right now, But I can tell you that there is life after this. God never leaves you or forsakes you, that he’s always there for you. And even in the midst of a crisis, if you can settle yourself, quieten yourself a little bit, you will actually sense the presence of God and know that God is with you through this terrible time.’ And from a faith point of view, I think it’s incredibly powerful, but as a Christian ministering to our community, I think that’s even more powerful.”
“If you can settle yourself, quieten yourself a little bit, you will actually sense the presence of God and know that God is with you through this terrible time.” – Dave Winter
Centre Church is providing sandwiches for lunch, often just driving down streets and offering people cleaning up some food and a bottle of water. The team is also delivering hot meals to people who order them via an app, thanks to the generosity of a Byron Bay restaurant.
Further south in flood-affected areas of Sydney and the Illawarra, Anglicare is just one of the organisations that are responding to the need.
“Anglicare is doing what we have always done to render assistance to the most vulnerable in the communities in which we work”, said CEO Simon Miller.
“Our doors are open and our people and prepared and able to serve those in need.” – Simon Miller
Simon explained that Anglicare is offering three areas of emergency support: food and financial assistance; turning their Op Shops in affected areas into drop-in centres and engaging Anglicare Disaster Recovery Volunteers. Working with emergency workers at the front line, they will ensure flood victims are brought to safety and are provided with any medical treatment, clean clothes and temporary shelter.
“We are an organisation that has always served the most vulnerable in our communities, but more especially in these times where the floods and rain create chaos and anxiety in many lines,” the new CEO said.
“Our doors are open and our people and prepared and able to serve those in need.”
Anglicare welcomes your donations to assist our food, financial and welfare programs. You can donate today by calling 1300 111 278 or by clicking here: Make a Donation to Anglicare