Cyclone Seroja – Update 2

(published 16th April 2021)   Update 1   Update 2   Update 3   Update 4   Update 5

As the days go by, with Seroja pushing in on us from every side we are reminded of the verse from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10;
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Things have certainly been ticking along here in Kalbarri since Tropical Cyclone Seroja hit our small tourist town on Sunday evening. Many different state agencies have entered and taken over the town; State Emergency Services, St Johns Ambulance, Marine Rescue, Parks and Wildlife, FESA (Fire Brigade), WA Police, WA Department of Communities and of course, Australian Army personnel. Some of these agencies were already represented in town (mostly the first responder groups) and some are new to our town which we only came in touch with if we visited Geraldton, the big smoke 165 kms away (about 2 hours drive). Learning what some of these people are responsible for is a steep curve for us, even though we’ve been in Western Australia now for over twenty years!

We’ve also had visits from our state and federal leaders, WA Premier, Mark McGowan and the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Neither spent more than half a day here, let alone the night. There have been stories of elderly people so shocked and frightened from the experience of the cyclone that they have been found 2 or 3 days later still soaked in their ‘safe’ room – no roof, no walls and no contact with a person, till a friend queries their welfare and someone goes to find them.

We are finding many things that we shouldn’t do; the state departments have these in hand for the moment – like providing food, shelter, emergency money, filling out forms for endless allowances and insurance companies, even helping clean up various materials. We need to find our ‘niche’ – small specialised areas where we are either uniquely equipped or find something missed out in the ‘big guys recovery plan’. Jenny and I are starting to think those ‘niches’ are in the areas of Mental Health (counselling or dealing with trauma, grief, and forced change) and Community Resilience / Morale (this is harder to define, but something that will bring back the heart of the community).

Personally, we are still without a regular electricity supply, any Internet apart from mobile phones…. and my beloved computers / technology which usually make some ministries much easier. Remember that electricity and some other services are possibly weeks away from full restoration. There is a great sense of resilience and hope among the town’s people for the long term future, but I wonder whether there might be a better hope in the one who stilled the wind and waves, and showed his power over death and its destruction…. Jesus is the one Kalbarri needs.

The cleanup has begun – we were helped by the team from ‘Parks and Wildlife’ regional office in Geraldton to chop up the large gum tree which fell near the church building. We have piled up some fencing near one of our sheds, and also cleared some fallen trees along our long church driveway.

We continue to receive words of encouragement through texts and phone calls. We are particularly thankful to Rockingham Reformed Church in supplying some generators, leads and lights for us. Some of the Geraldton churches are hoping to come up and help us clean up our church site when it is safer to travel to Kalbarri. We also know many Sydney Anglican churches are having a focus on churches in our Mid-West region effected by Seroja.

Again, if you’d like to pray for us, here are some prayer points to get you started ……..

Give thanks for ……
** the Lord’s continued sustaining us during this trying and high energy time.
** many people supporting us with prayer and kind words which are helping us sustain our efforts for the gospel
** the continued optimism and resilience of Kalbarri folk – their neighbourly care and help for each other
** many fund-raising initiatives starting up to produce funding for renewal in Kalbarri as it is rebuilt.
** help currently in town and those arriving soon; State Emergency Services, Police, St Johns Ambulance, and Army personnel.
** people to help needy people get financial packages together from both state and federal governments

Please pray for …..
** creativity to make the life-giving gospel clear both to distressed locals and first responder helpers in a town resembling a war zone.
** tourism operators to receive the support they need from state and federal governments, as they rebuild their businesses from scratch. There are no tourists allowed in town at present, and that is unlikely to change for at least 2 or 3 months.
** restoration of services in town, especially electricity, so people can enjoy some comforts. Kalbarri has become jokingly the town of ‘power outages‘ … Due to the size and complexity of the repairs needed the town will be without power for probably at least another three to four weeks.
** safety for everyone in town – people are now piling wreckage and rubbish on the road verges for teams to pickup and dispose in the local tip. The asbestos issue is becoming bigger, and specialist responders and contractors have been brought into town to deal with this growing problem as more buildings are inspected. Please note: we do not believe the church site has any asbestos issues.
** our local District High School has been deemed a no-go zone. They can’t access the grounds to assess damage or retrieve resources. Decisions are being made about how / where education can continue. This affects the staff, students and their families.
** direction and resources for ministry which will help people survive and thrive in the current devastation and cope with the constant change in the town at present – probably in the areas of mental health and community building.

If you’d like to support us financially there are two possible avenues;

Directly to our church’s general account;
** Account name: St. Marks Kalbarri
** BSB: 086 886
** A/C no.: 19 683 5586
** Remark / Comment: Kalbarri offertory

Helping us reach our personal fund-raising target of $20,000 for 2021;
** Account name: Diocese of North West
** BSB: 706 001
** A/C no.: 30003846
** Remark / Comment: Days in Kalbarri

If you’d like to see more of our updates they will appear at which we’ll update when we can. Give us a ring on David 0438-369-062 or Jenny 0438-095-570, currently landline and e-mail are not working.