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Local mission delivery at the frontline of disaster support in Cairns


Cairns Corps Officer Major Ben Johnson at a warehouse where donated and bulk-purchased items for disaster recovery can be stored and sorted.

 BY LAUREN MARTIN

 

Cairns Corps has been invited to be part of a new disaster hub in Far North Queensland to assist people in the aftermath of Cyclone Jasper.

 

Cairns Corps Officer Major Ben Johnson said the Department of Communities invited the local salvos to be part of a joint Disaster Recovery and Resilience Hub to serve locals impacted by the cyclone, which hit in December 2023 and resulted in widespread flooding.

 

The Category 4 cyclone has been classed as the ‘wettest’ in Australian history, with 2252mm of rain falling in one area just north of Cairns.

 

“We have a good relationship with other agencies here in Cairns,” Ben said. “Centrecare, which has been appointed as the lead agency, could see all we were doing in the aftermath of the cyclone and the professionalism with which we operate. Our corps people have been mucking out houses for people, coming alongside people and doing the gritty jobs. Doing whatever is needed.”


Some of the Cairns Corps’ SAES team out assisting in the aftermath of Cyclone Jasper.

Centrecare assesses people who come in for assistance and refers people to different agencies as needed.

 

“We are providing material assistance, supporting people to get set up in their accommodation,” Ben said of the Salvos role. “Initially, we offered very practical things like mattresses, clothing and food. As people entered more permanent living situations, we extended into furniture, white goods, toys for kids, and kitchen and bedding packs.”

 

The Salvation Army has also donated the use of a large air-conditioned warehouse and loading dock to store and sort donations of new goods and bulk items. “We have three pallets of brand-new clothing, mattresses, fridges, washing machines, toys and bottled water,” said Ben.

 

Cairns Corps has been heavily involved since Cyclone Jasper hit just before Christmas. Corps members were part of The Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) response at the evacuation centre, providing catering. Then, during the early recovery response, Ben said while National Recovery Services team members were on hand to assess and provide financial assistance, local Salvos were helping people whose homes had been inundated move into their emergency accommodation.

“We were doing a lot of transporting community members to their accommodation because a lot of them lost cars as well and all sorts of essential things,” Ben said.

 

“We helped them with a food hamper to get established in their temporary accommodation so they wouldn’t have to go out shopping that night, and we would give them some vouchers to give them a boost while they were waiting on recovery payments to come through.”

 

Now, through the partnership with Centrecare and the other agencies involved in the Disaster Recovery and Resilience Hub, the local Salvation Army in Cairns will continue to play its part in journeying alongside those affected for the long haul.


Cairns Corps volunteer Karogo receiving donations of brand-new goods to assist people impacted by Cyclone Jasper.  

 


 



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