A Uniting Church minister in southwest Victoria said her local community is helping families get back on their feet following the devastating bushfires that ravaged the region.
Bushfires ripped through parts of regional Victoria during March, destroying 18 homes along with hundreds of livestock.
Watch and act alerts and emergency warnings were issued for 40 towns across the state as hot weather and strong winds fanned a number of blazes near Camperdown, Warrnambool and Hamilton.
Rev Dr Mele Fakahua-Ratcliffe, minister at Terang, Cobden and Timboon Uniting Churches, said local church ministers are planning to meet together to assess how they can respond to the most pressing needs in the community.
“Cobden, Terang, Timboon and Camperdown were all affected by the fire as well as the little hamlets near these centres,” Dr Fakahua-Ratcliffe said.
“We have an op shop in Cobden, and they are distributing donated goods from the church hall as well as the op shop.”
The Cobden Uniting Church Op Shop has been overwhelmed with donations from the community in recent days. Their hall has also received clothes, food, toiletries, sanitary products, water, pet food, linen and toys.
“I visited one of our farm people affected and the insurance company also visited them. I also attended a town hall meeting in Terang,” Dr Fakahua-Ratcliffe said.
“The main need I hear apart from those who lost their houses was the nearest opportunity to bury the perished stock as soon as possible, getting the insurance paperwork done, seeking financial help from the government and setting up the milking sheds.”
Moderator Sharon Hollis has offered the following prayer for the communities affected by the bushfires:
Loving, tender God,
We pray for those whose lives have been ravaged by bushfires.
For comfort in their sorrow
For courage to face tomorrow
For support on the journey of rebuilding
Loving, tender God,
May they know your constant presence
May they be sustained in Your hope
May they be held in Your mercy.
UCA President Stuart McMillan has asked church members to give generously to communities impacted by the bushfires in Victoria and NSW and by the cyclone in Darwin.
“I ask all Uniting Church members to support our appeals as they can, which go to support ministry in disaster-affected communities,” Mr McMillan said.
Donate to the National Disaster Relief Fund to fund disaster recovery chaplaincy and support programs for families affected by the bushfires in Victoria and NSW and Cyclone Marcus in Darwin.