The Dandenong Ranges Group was fortunate enough to be invited to tour the Lodden Mallee District last weekend together with the great company of members of the Maroondah Group.
I mention fortunate because before the visit I was under the impression that the ramification from the floods back earlier this year were basically under control and nearing completion.
How wrong was my presumption?
Our first point of call was District 2 Head Quarters in Bendigo where we met Operations Manager Mark Gilmore, HR Manager Beverley Nixon, CIS Coordinator Norm Bowen and Deputy Coordinator Peter Mannes who made us all very welcome.
We were given a quick over view of the area that had been affected by the floods by OM Mark, we then received framed certificates for each Brigade in both Maroondah & Dandenong Ranges Group who donated money towards the Flood Relief Program earlier this year.
We then travelled with tour guides Beverley, Norm and Peter who gave us running commentary to Charlton where we witnessed building, pasture and crop damage that was still quite visible.
There was signage still positioned by disgruntled people who had less than acceptable outcomes from Insurance Companies.
We then met up with Charlton Brigade members at their station where Captain Brendan Byrne gave us all a general run down of where and who the floods had affected and the current status.
Captain Brendon gave out CD’s of flood photo’s which after looking at were sobering to say the least. Needless to say there were many, many people who were still in desperate circumstances and struggling to make ends meet.
Water damaged materials, household goods and appliances were still situated on nature strips and roadsides which had not been taken away which to me must be demoralising to all.
So much evidence of the horror to see day after day must give a negative vibe to all.
Charlton Brigade is low on numbers but have a positive aspect and are doing their utmost to help in any way to get back to normality - I tip my hat to them.
We then travelled to Rochester where we met OM John Cutting, Captain Mick Hassell, Secretary Graeme Watson and ex Captain Vaughan Thomas who again made us all feel very welcome.
OM John gave us an over view of what transpired and damaged caused.
Captain Mick then spoke of the Brigade experiences and the current situation.
Rochester has shown better recovery but still a long way from normality and still require the fundamentals for families to do what we take down here for granted.
My aim in writing this is to bring to your attention that the Floods that inundated and upset people’s lives earlier this year in the Lodden Mallee Region is still hampering them and recovery is still a long way off.
Families are still in dire straits requiring the fundamentals to survive.
Retail and Rural businesses have been affected severely as many have no job which in turn affects the local economy.
Funds from our Flood Relief Appeal have been targeted towards fundamental requirements such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, school books, children toys and list goes on and on.
An eye opening tour that has made me aware of the basic survival requirements we all need that we take for granted.
I now understand more clearly why VFBV Bill Watson is so passionate about the non perishable food drive that he has been so dedicated towards in helping these unfortunate people.
I would like to pass on my thanks firstly to Maroondah Group Officer Ken Reed for his forthright thinking in not only the tour but the Flood Relief Program.
I would also like to thank the Lodden Mallee personnel (Staff & Volunteers) who gave up their time to make us feel welcome on the day.
A big thank you to the generosity of Maroondah Group & Dandenong Ranges Brigades who donated funds to help these devastated townships.