Most of Kalbarri in Western Australia has been damaged.
A church reaches out after a cyclone changes everything
A big clean-up ahead: One of the many trees uprooted in Kalbarri by Cyclone Seroja.
Martin Rodger describes it like tourism industry. After many being caught in “the spin cycle of the washing machine.” In the 18 years that he and his wife have lived in Kalbarri, they’ve never seen or heard anything like the Category 3 tropical cylone that tore through the town on April 11. “The noise is unbelievable,” says Mr Rodger, who owns two local businesses affected by the storm: Jetty’s Seafood Shack and Kalbarri Quad Bike Safaris. “You can hear the roofs being torn off, but you don’t know where it’s coming from... if it’s your roof or your neighbour’s. It’s like being in a cinema with the surround sound on double, but you can’t just leave the cinema – you’re stuck there.” Cyclone Seroja damaged 75 per cent of the town. Ten per cent of buildings are now uninhabitable. Power has still not been restored a month on from the storm. The fishing town is home to 1300 people, with numbers rising to 5000 in the tourist season. Most locals are employed in the SouthernCross
businesses struggled with a loss of visitors through 2020, this latest disaster will continue to have a huge financial impact on the community. “This has compounded the situation we were in after COVID,” Mr Rodger says. “The quad bike business is unaffected, but we can’t run it because there are no tourists. [Jetty’s Seafood Shack] has been made electrically safe and we can function once power is on. It’s going to be one massive challenge.” Some power has been restored thanks to large generators, but there is still a long way to go before life becomes normal again. The minister in charge at Kalbarri Church, the Rev David Day, says that “as of [April 25], we have reliable power but there are still people in town [without]. A lot of people are running generators, but they can’t run a microwave or boil the kettle – those sorts of everyday things you might take for granted. This may go on for weeks.”
Anglican Aid is partnering with the Diocese of North West Australia to help support the Kalbarri church and community as they recover. In town there are many government departments and organisations, such as the State Emergency Service and the Red Cross, providing support. Kalbarri Church is looking to offer additional support to the community through pastoral care and formal opportunities for grief and trauma counselling. “People are getting in and getting things happening, but there is a small group of people who are absolutely traumatised,” Mr Day says. “They can’t get on with life or clean up their messes or cope with what is happening.” Bishop Gary Nelson, of the Diocese of North West Australia, says it will take months, if not years, for communities to recover. “Cyclone Seroja has caused widespread damage throughout the Mid West and parts of the Wheatbelt to homes, businesses, farms and essential
infrastructure... Our Anglican church family is caring for each other and, importantly, reaching out to the wider community to show the love of Christ and share the hope of the gospel.” In light of this, Mr Day prays that his church may be a blessing to the community in many ways. “Keep praying for us to meet together, and for those in our church to remain connected to Christ,” he says. “Pray for our church, that we pick and choose what we do in a wise way. Pray for wise words and actions for us. We’re trying to talk to people and be available for people and support them.” With the town still in a mess, and reconstruction not yet started, Mr Day recognises that many will need help for a long time to come. “Pray that people [in Kalbarri] will get the support they need – not only from the government but from the insurance companies and others,” he says. You can support the cyclone appeal at www.anglicanaid.org.au 13
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