Support for cyclone and flood victims

President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has asked church members to lend their support for communities suffering in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.

“Our Church will be there to support people in need and help Queensland and northern NSW recover,” Mr McMillan said.

“Please continue to pray for the safety and welfare of all affected communities as they come to terms with their losses.

“I ask all UCA members to please try to support our appeals, which go to support ministry in these communities.”

Cyclone Debbie made landfall on the Whitsunday Coast as a Category 4 storm on Monday 28 March, with winds of more than 260 kilometres an hour causing extensive damage.

A week on, water, shelter and communications are still limited in the towns of Ayr, Bowen and Proserpine.

Torrential rains from the weakening cyclone have also seen rivers in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales reach record peaks, causing major flooding in Beaudesert, Lismore and the Tweed Valley. Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated.

In the central Queensland town of Rockhampton, households and businesses are bracing themselves for possible flooding later this week.

Counsellors from Lifeline UnitingCare Community in Queensland are working in disaster-affected communities to support locals dealing with the trauma of the past week.

Disaster relief chaplains in NSW are stationed at evacuation centres in flood-affected areas in Lismore and the Tweed Valley.

National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev Dr Stephen Robinson said all communities face a long road to recovery.

“What’s most needed now are our prayers and support,” Dr Robinson said.

“Your donations will support the recovery of those affected by providing personal and practical care to people, many of whom might otherwise fall through the gaps of formal support.

“The Uniting Church is well-placed to provide this kind of support because we’re part of the affected community, and we’ll be there alongside the community into the future.”

In the weeks ahead, the synods of Queensland and NSW/ACT will send trained peer supporters to work alongside church leaders as the process of recovery begins.

Dr Robinson will follow up with affected presbyteries and congregations and work with synods to assist the recovery effort.

The Queensland Synod has launched a Disaster Relief Appeal while the NSW/ACT Synod is encouraging its members to donate to the Moderator’s Appeal.

The Assembly’s National Disaster Relief Fund remains open to donations, with funds to be drawn on by Uniting Churches and agencies supporting recovery in affected areas.

Donations of $2 and over are tax-deductible.

Image: ABC News/Twitter

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