Bodalla Community Hall has been set up as a food hub, and volunteers are busy receiving and delivering food. But the logistics of managing donations in a major disaster are huge for small communities like Bodalla and Quaama and they are calling for help.
Local businesswoman Lisa Cornthwaite says that the volunteers need assistance from authorities to manage the situation and to relieve the load on many who are also struggling to cope themselves with the fire’s impact.
“We’ve set up at the Community Hall, and deliveries and trucks have been fantastic – from Griffith, and the Salvos, and we still need stuff”, she says
“However, we’d like to correct the message going out on some media, like radio, that we don’t need any more donated goods. We do, we are just having trouble co-ordinating, storing and distributing the goods in the short term.” says Ms Cornthwaite, owner of The Plot in Bodalla.
Ms Cornthwaite says “It’s not that we don’t need the supplies, we do. It’s that the deliveries need to be staggered, and we need some Government or Council personnel, professional people on the ground to help, so we can get back to dealing with our lives.”
“Currently, we are volunteering full time, around the clock.”
“We need a co-ordinated effort, and to find some storage. We have set up a centre here at our Community Hall, which will be needed for other activities in the future. We are working for ourselves too and we can’t do this forever.”
“Council have paid employees, so perhaps they can come and help, with managing this. We’re now quite fatigued and need to look after our own businesses and homes. Some of us are also with the RFS.”
Lisa says that Bodalla looks OK on the main street, but many outside areas are affected, “Potato Point, Tuross, many areas have people coming to pick up food and other goods.”
“We need to work out a long term strategy, there are just the 20 of us here and we are working as hard as possible.”
Lisa and other volunteers are working from 8-6 pm everyday, on two hours rosters, packing for different food hubs around the area, delivering to farmers and outlying areas.
“For example Tuross doesn’t have anything there. Someone came in and we’ve packed 25 bags to go to the many elderly who are in their own homes. Maybe they can’t drive, and I encourage people to check on the old people around them, and their neighbours.” she says.
“Bodalla itself has power, but out the back, we don’t have any. We need water pumps for homes and for watering stock and we need fodder. We need generators and diesel fuel. If someone could drop a dozen gen-sets from the sky that would be amazing!”
There are many communities affected by these fires, with no respite in view. Each area is doing what it can for their community, whilst looking after family and their own homes.
Perhaps it is time for some military-style assistance on the ground in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla shires.