Here are the latest reports from the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) in Tasmania. Team Leader, Greg Moran from Inverell, NSW, gives an overview of the team’s activities plus an insight into the devastation caused by the fires and it’s affects on the community.
Monday 14th Jan was a full and productive day as we started early and finally got home at about 9.00pm.
Today we had a meeting early with the manager of Housing Tasmania to discuss the potential numbers of displaced people from the Tasman peninsula who had lost their homes and all their goods who may want temporary accommodation in a ShelterBox tent. The meeting was very positive with the issue of registration and assessment being arranged .A ShelterBox was delivered to us from Launceston by District 9830 Rep,Bill Dobson and this was demonstrated to the people at Housing Tasmania. This Dept also gave us a locked storage to place a number of ShelterBoxes when they arrive in Hobart
The Director of Emergency Services for Tasmania in the Premier’s Dept asked us to attend a meeting in Dunally at 3pm to meet other cluster type people and aid organisers .We travelled through to Sorell and visited the registration and distribution centre for the area for those affected by the fires and spoke to them about ShelterBox , leaving literature, etc with them. They were quite impressed by the concept. We also had the opportunity to talk with the Mayor of Sorell, as he is heading up the relief and response efforts in Tasmania
We travelled on to Dunally and had to detour through Connallys Marsh as the road was cut with power lines down on the road .The devastation of the hills , properties and houses was amazing , with fire jumping over some paddocks to take a house out and the indiscriminate nature of the wild fire was frightening .Total devastation. All the power lines were down and sagged to road level . At least the pub survived and was certainly the centre of the town efforts and a much needed meeting place. The 3 pm meeting with all the main players gave us the opportunity to demonstrate ShelterBox as we had erected the tent just outside the pub and all were most interested. From not knowing much about Shelterbox, many people learned a lot about it and wanted brochures to spread the word .
The area outside the Dunally pub was a major meeting place and distribution and food centre for all those from the area affected, so it was a great place to erect and present the tent. We now know of a number of residents of this area that appear to genuinely need help.
Tuesday 15th Jan. Early start today as we headed out to Dunalley at 7.00 am to meet ABC reporters and attend a 9.30 am meeting of the support team for the response teams
We were put in touch with a couple of older ladies that had lost the lot and were in a bad way. We went with them and inspected their sites and realised how devastating it was for them to stand amongst the ashes of a lifetime of work and special memorabilia that meant so much to them. As we stated previously, it was amazing to see how indiscriminate the fire was as it hopped one house or paddock to get another. A stark reminder of how devastating it was to see blackened chimneys standing with no building around them, how sad and demoralising .
The 9.30am meeting was purely organisational, as groups of volunteers were put together to form outreach teams to go out to the various areas to ascertain how the residents were going and if they needed any help or direction to assist them.
The neighbourhood community house was the next port of call and we spoke to the staff there to ascertain their function and if there had been any genuine needs cases come through the doors that really needed a ShelterBox .They do a great job for this small community and are an example of how rural people pull together and rarely seek outside assistance. We travelled from Dunalley to Murdunna, near to Eaglehawk Neck, to ascertain the damage sustained at this town .There was an enormous amount of damage seen as per the photos and the community was getting right into it doing cleanup and whatever they could .The one major evident aspect is the amount of help occurring. Electricity lines and poles are down everywhere and crews and trucks from NSW, VIC, and SA are here to assist the repairs ,so are the numbers of volunteers on the ground just helping out ,a great effort with everyone pitching in .
The Tasmanian Govt. and Councils have contracted a company to carry out the cleanup at sites where houses have been burned down as it looks like a bomb has hit .Thick ash and tin plus burned possessions are strewn and the sites do need cleaning up especially if there is an asbestos presence. We are therefore finding it difficult to find locations to put up tents in most locations on residential blocks before the cleanup at each site is done, but we do have some takers that want a tent and box in the community area at the moment.
The outreach groups from yesterday may have some leads for us today as they were processing people and their needs and were going to advertise that we were present and put them in touch with us to ascertain their situation.