Thursday, March 5, 2009

How can we help other towns?

We got a call last night from a community organiser in Marysville asking us to share how we have been able to move quickly to get our temporary village off the ground.

It was a good opportunity to reflect on what we have learned and to share with another fire ravaged town what has enabled us to move quicky.

Marysville lost virtually everything and the death toll there was horrific. As the fires were deliberately lit there is still more work required by police and coroners before the rebuilding can be started.

We were fortunate there was some key infrastructure in the town that was saved by the locals which meant that a critical mass of people never left the Community and could continue to remain in Flowerdale notwithstanding it was a pretty tough few weeks.

We had the pub, the school and community hall together with the local shop. The Spring Valley Recreation Reserve, which is where the temporary village is, was untouched and gave us a logical place to set up. We certainly endured some very frustrating times trying to get essential supplies into town due to roadblocks which I outlined in some of my earlier posts.

I understand that Maryville was pretty well evacuated after Black Saturday and the community still isn't able to go back.

The recovery effort in Flowerdale is Community led and driven. The vast majority of the recovery effort and the skills applied comes from people in the town. People in the town have experience in Leadership, Logistics, Community Development, Consulting Engineering, Structural Engineering, Accommodation and Hospitality, Economics, Sport and Recreation to mention a few. Outside help was sought in areas such as Web Technology, Accounting, Electrical Engineering and Project Management. This help came from existing networks within the community.

We also have a two phased plan, Phase one was to get whatever we could into the town to feed and house the residents in the area that remained, this included the caravans, mining huts and tents. Phase two is to put in place some semi permanent accommodation, which the State Government has now committed to provide, which will ensure that there is quality accommodation for people to come back to during the rebuilding phase.

I am sure that the people of Marysville have the skills and capability to get things moving and when they have the opportunity to get back together they will also come out of this even stronger than they were before. I have spent a great deal of time in Marysville over the years and the drive through the Black Spur is in my view the most spectacular drive in Victoria. It is a fantastic town with a strong sense of community.

We wish the people of Marysville well and whatever we can share or do that may be able to help we are more than willing to do, at the end of the day we are all in this together.

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