Hills Recovery Festival 27 February 2022 with distribution of funds from the Rotary appeal to community groups

 Communications Failures

One of the main issues that the people experienced directly after the storm was a complete failure in communications between the affected area and the outside world. Our first action was to add to the efforts of the Rotary Club of Monbulk when they supplied two satellite phone communication hubs to the Monbulk Emergency Group, by adding another Satellite Phone system and funding to maintain connection plans for the next two years. These communication hubs can be set up in any areas that are effected by storm or fire events to enable locals to communicate with families and let them know they are okay or need help, the lack of which often results in adding to the trauma of the event.
 
Recovery from the Traumatic Event
During the event of the storms, children often suffered trauma when their homes and lives were threatened and the sounds of howl- ing wind and crashing trees was impressed into their memories. In order to help these children recover from that trauma, Rescue Logs is publishing a book to be funded by the Rotary Storm Recovery Fund. This book will help the children manage their fears and allow them to talk about the events and work through their feelings that they experienced. This book will be distributed, free to the primary school students in the area.
 
Mount Dandenong Pre-School
 
A Pre-School on the mountain was destroyed by the storm and much of their fundraising equipment was destroyed. Rotary have assisted the Mount Dandenong Pre-School with funds for roasters used in their major fundraising event, The Chestnut Festival to help them raise money and restock their school with items not covered by insurance. The building was not able to be repaired due to the presence of asbestos. A complete rebuild is required.
 
Grab Bags — for when you have nothing
 
Many people that had to evacuate their homes, said that they often left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Rotary is producing Grab Bagscontaining items such as torches, gloves, blankets, first aid kits, hand warmers, respirator masks, tissues, hand sanitiser and more. These will be distributed to families in the most vulnerable areas of the Ranges. This project is still in development and funds are being held until planning and design is completed.
 
What we can do now !
 
The most important need that has currently been identified now, is the need to assist people with fallen trees on their property who have no means of clearing the heavy logs and branches, that have now become a fire hazard. Two organisations, working on this huge task, are working with the Yarra Ranges and Cardinia Councils. Rotary is supplying materials and funding to help these organisations clear land of families in need that are referred to them, through Anglicare and Windermere Community Services. These organisations are Treasure our Trees, which is a group of people supporting Professional Arborists, to clear the land of trees which are mostly in dangerous states and need expert knowledge to dismantle their entanglement. Treasure our Trees are recovering the logs and, in some cases, using them to build playgrounds and gardens in the schools on the mountain. The second organisation that the Rotary Fund is helping is Habitat for Humanity. This is an organisation that supervises volunteers who are formed into teams to go onto properties to clear the mess that the storm has left behind.

Emerald State Emergency Service (SES)

Im sure that we are all aware that the SES are the heroes of our community in these traumatic events and they certainly shone in the days and weeks following the storms in the Dandenongs. The clubs of the hills clusterquickly identified the SES as worthy recipients of a contribution from our fund. As well as much needed equipment, our fund is helping the SES with training of new recruits. As in many organisations, knowledge and skills diminish over time as members retire from the group. Rotary is funding the training of 10 SES volunteers in the safe operation of Chain Saws plus 4 volunteers are to be trained to attain Heavy Vehicle Driving Licenses in order to keep their trucks on the road in a safe manner .

  

HILLS STORM RECOVERY
 
Volunteering
 
We supported the Help The Hills group by providing our administration support, registration desk help and some of our members have been involved in going to the weekend clean-ups to help out. Members also cooked special treats to sustain the volunteers at the registration desk! Help The Hills is run by Paul Yandle, Emerald CFA Captain. We were asked to help staff at the Kalorama Relief Centre too, co-ordinated by St. Michael’s Church and community members. Some Rotary members assisted for a few days before the recent lock-downs were called. This was to relieve the local community members at the Relief Centre, who had been working there since early June and needed a break. 
 
Storm Impact Relief Fund – Rotary Club of Emerald and District distribution of funds
 
The Club had funds available to spend, which was a culmination of a fundraising BBQ, the July T2T Market, donations from District Rotary and Box Hill/Burwood Rotary. Funds can still be donated to District fundraising efforts/RAWCS fund until the end of August via the link:
 
 
Our Rotary Club will be involved in the decision-making to co-ordinate spending of the District funds to help after the serious consequences of the storms back in June 2021.
 
Donations made to date:
 
  • 84 bags each of 12 kg of dry wood was donated to the Kalorama Relief Centre for distribution to families in need.
  • Money was donated to Mt. Dandenong Pre-School to support the students and staff with toys/books/equipment since they were displaced from their site due to the June storm damage. 
  • Money was donated to the Emerald-Monbulk Wildlife Shelter to support the care of injured, orphaned and displaced native animals after the June storms.
  • Other monetary donations have been made and vouchers supplied to support individual families impacted by the June storms in the Kalorama and surrounding area.
 
The work of the Rotary Club of Emerald and District is ongoing in this area, as we liaise with our community network to support those in need.
 
Help The Hills Task Force
The Rotary Club of Emerald and District is proud to have the Help The Hills - Dandenong Ranges Task Force by assisting with administration needs.
 
Relevant information is listed below and taken from the task force website:
 
The June 2021 storms effected large parts of the Dandenong Ranges which now require a massive clean-up effort. The ‘Help the Hills’ organising team are predominantly made up of CFA volunteers. Whilst this is NOT an official CFA event, we have been on the ground during the initial response phase and understand the enormity of the task at hand. We also recognize the large amount of foliage and green waste on the ground that will create fire hazards in the future if not cleaned up before the next fire season, and we want to help.
 
Emergency crews, SES, CFA, FFM, Council, Contractors and Utility Companies have done an amazing job clearing roads, gaining access and removing dangerous trees etc, but private residents now need help on their properties, where safe to do so.
 
Multiple trees down on a property creates a huge amount of green waste and with the help of our community volunteer crews we aim to assist in a practical, hands on way to start the process of returning our hills residents to some sort of normality. For many, where to even start can be quite overwhelming and this task is just too big for many of our residents to tackle on their own, particularly the elderly or residents without the capacity to do this work.
 
Both Yarra Ranges and Cardinia Shire are planning green waste removal assistance as a result of the storms but many residents may not have the capacity or just need help to cut up tree branches and foliage and move it to a suitable part of the property with better access for later pick up or mulching trucks. We are here to help with this massive clean-up task with feet on the ground.
 
We are organising crews of community volunteers to assist residents in areas that have been deemed safe on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June. If the demand is great enough we will also look to extend the program out over following weekends.
 
IMPORTANTLY ……. if you know of an affected resident in the Dandenong Ranges who needs help and may not have internet access please reach out to them through your networks a