During the blackness of the night of March 19, after a week of record-breaking rains, the swollen Camden Haven River spilled over its banks swamping roads and inundating hundreds of homes forcing many residents to leave all their valuables to evacuate to safety. And this is just the communities of Lorne, Kendall, Laurieton, Dunbogan and North Haven. Stories of similar devastation and property losses on the Mid North Coast were repeated at Taree, Wauchope, Port Macquarie and Kempsey. Praise God, no lives were lost.
Not only houses but two of the seven local Camden Haven caravan parks (Dunbogan Caravan Park and Brigadoon Holiday Park) were awash with filthy, muddy floodwater, in parts to a depth of around 1.2 metres … and with little warning. Dozens of residents had to be rescued that night. Many of these people are aged, with few assets and living on low income unable to afford insurance. Their material losses are enormous.
The floodwaters subsided leaving in its wake havoc and ruin. Then good stuff began to happen. The community swung into action, strangers helping strangers, neighbours helping neighbours, the clean up began. Very soon streets were lined with huge piles of ruined household goods, furniture, bedding, clothing, electrical appliances, cars, every imaginable thing. What last night were household valuables, now trash. So much loss. So much waste.
North Haven Baptist Church as part of the community was of course stunned by this disaster and are grieving with our neighbours. What can we do? How can we help? As can be expected some of our own were deeply affected, suffering losses of their own. Two families have lost so much and had their homes rendered unlivable. Others suffered losses but not too difficult to recover from.
For a church family predominantly comprising aged pensioners and retirees it’s simply stunning to see their hearts at work, indeed Christ’s heart of compassion expressed through His people. On Good Friday a flood relief appeal was launched with the purpose of pooling funds to come to the aid of our own and the surrounding community raising $13,000.00. Jesus at work.
Not just money, many of our people in their 60s, 70s and 80s rolled up their sleeves, bent their backs and got to work helping the community with the massive clean up. To their great credit Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Recovery team arrived, set up their facilities in our church grounds and with volunteers from all parts are moving through the community cleaning out flood-affected homes, removing damaged wall and floor linings and treating each property with anti-mould solution leaving them ready for the work of building restoration so that their owners can return home. This same group of believers can be seen each day wearing their bright orange Samaritan’s Purse tee shirts and collecting blisters in the Name of Jesus and for the sake of their neighbours.
Not only the people of North Haven Church are shouldering recovery efforts but other church groups from the local community and Port Macquarie are pitching in along with several other disaster relief organisations including the servicemen and women of the ADF.
Thanks to the Association’s Disaster Relief Fund the folk at North Haven Church are working closely with the most affected residents of Dunbogan Caravan Park and Brigadoon Holiday Park to replace some of their more costly household items or assist with the cost of restoring their homes. The task is huge. The need is great. The recovery work, both physical and emotional, will take many months, perhaps years.
Please pray with us that the love of God will shine through this disaster, that hearts will be turned and that the Name of Jesus will be magnified. “Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.” (Romans 15:2)
Written by Paul Nossiter (Treasurer at North Haven Baptist Church)