Fire-hit small communities say they need help managing and distributing donations

Lisa Herbert13 January 2020
Perishable and non-perishable goods donated to Bodalla

Perishable and non-perishable goods donated to Bodalla. Photo: Facebook.

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.

Volunteers working hard in Bodalla

Volunteers working hard in Bodalla to get deliveries organised. Photo: Facebook.

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.”

Erica Dibden of Tilba Real Dairy

Erica Dibden of Tilba Real Dairy has been delivering product to communities. Photo: Facebook.

“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.

Quaama hall

A wry sign in the Quaama hall where bushfire supplies are being assembled. Photo: Facebook.

What's Your Opinion?

6 Responses to Fire-hit small communities say they need help managing and distributing donations

Micro Energy Systems Australia Micro Energy Systems Australia 7:42 am 14 Jan 20

Good morning About Regional.

Thanks for the story; I would like to publish the following corrections due to the late timing of your article. The Bodalla Community food hub closed on Saturday afternoon and has shifted responsibility for warehousing and future bulk receiving to another volunteer group- the South coast Fire Recovery team.

People in need can contact me to arrange receipt of relief goods via this hub. The localised areas directly affected by the bushfire crisis are mainly west of Bodalla (ie Wain Court, Reedy creek, Nerrigundah, Cadgee & Belowra). We are still trying to coordinate ongoing immediate relief for these communities who all need larger infrastructure items such as IBC water containers, gensets & fuel as well as ongoing food and essential living relief. Many homes were lost and many without insurance coverage. The clearing and rebuilding process will take time and these people will need assistance for this. This will be a long term effort and needs the input from grass root community, local, state & federal government. Please refer to the pinned post on the The Plot Bodalla page for accurate details on the Bodalla food hubs efforts & achievements during the initial crisis period where the grass roots community led the way while government structures were still mobilising.

Sarah Coye Sarah Coye 11:24 pm 13 Jan 20

Check out Convoy Missions Australia today they launched a solution to this issue.

Kate Smith Kate Smith 11:29 am 13 Jan 20

This report is from Eurobodalla Shire. Does anyone know if the same issue is happening in Bega Shire? Happy to lend a hand here.

    Clare Gilbert Clare Gilbert 12:08 pm 13 Jan 20

    Kate Smith I know MSG at Merimbula are holding /storing many pallets . Contact them they were sorting yesterday

Carolyn Carolyn 8:55 am 13 Jan 20

The army are camped in Bega and are doing the logistics at the show ground in regard to this.
Perhaps they can be asked specifically?

Jennifer Buckett Jennifer Buckett 8:22 am 13 Jan 20

Then why haven’t they been given the help. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.