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• Ongoing help in Hunter Valley


Salvation Army recovery workers Amanda and Vicky Brown assist people affected by the bushfires that swept through the Cessnock area of the Hunter Valley just before Christmas.

By LAUREN MARTIN

A Salvation Army recovery team is back in the bushfire-affected NSW Hunter Valley this week, after a fire destroyed and damaged homes just a week before Christmas.

 

Recovery worker Vicky Brown and her daughter Amanda are revisiting the towns of Abermain and Kurri Kurri to offer bushfire assistance to those affected by the blaze. Vicky said before Christmas she saw a lot of distressed people, and now, there are others who are only just realising they can receive support.

 

“We just saw one gentleman who lost his entire home,” she said. “It burned to the ground. A lot of other people are living with relatives or friends because their homes are not habitable.

 

She said people are surprised and grateful that The Salvation Army is able to assess their situation and give them cash grants. “I tell them, ‘People donate money to help people in their time of need and it’s my job to give it out.’

 

“But more than that, it’s the kind words we can offer. We listen to them and talk to them,” said Vicky, who is a soldier at Newcastle Salvation Army. “We can be Jesus to these people, even if they don’t realise it.”

 

Vicky’s daughter, Amanda, has been a volunteer in The Salvation Army Emergency Services for many years, and began volunteering in recovery two years ago. Just last week, she travelled with Vicky to spend a week on Queensland’s Gold Coast, assisting people after the devastating storms that damaged many homes.

 

“I just love helping people and being able to put a smile on people’s faces when they’re going through the worst situation they have ever faced,” she said.

 

The pair said the recovery assistance on the Gold Coast was incredibly busy, with lots of people needing assistance. This week, in the Hunter Valley, the pace is slower, and more meaningful conversations can be shared.

 

“We talk to them, and we listen to their horror stories, we look at their photos and their videos. They appreciate the fact that there is no judgement, just love.

 

“That’s the most rewarding part.”

 

 

 

 

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