By TOM GANNON
BLAZEAID is in the Yinnar area to assist the surrounding community in their storm recovery efforts.
BladeAid have set up a camp at the Yinnar Recreation Reserve on Jumbuk Rd to provide a range of targeted support in the area.
Yinnar BlazeAid camp co-ordinator Luke van der Meulen expects the volunteer-based organisation to have their work cut out for them come the end of the month.
“I had one person ring me up to say they have 10kms of fencing that has been damaged by tree fall,” he told The Express.
“A lot of the farmers feel quite devastated as a result of another incident after getting hit pretty hard (by bushfires) in 2019.”
BlazeAid assist struggling farmers and their farming communities in the wake of natural disasters such as bushfires and in this case chaotic storms.
“We rebuild sheds, if there were trees over roads we’d help with them, pipe damage, dam damage, if the storm has damaged infrastructure of any sort we’d consider helping in any of those areas,” Mr van der Meulen said.
As well as rebuilding destroyed infrastructure and clearing up debris, Mr van der Meulen said BlazeAid also look out for the mental health needs of affected communities, acting as an emotional support in a time of crisis.
“Some of these are only little farms but they are the whole lives of these people and if their fences and other things are damaged to the extent where some of them can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel beyond that, we’ve got to provide help to these people and get them back on their feet,” he said.
“If we recognise that there was anybody potentially in a situation where they might consider self-harm we’d get lifeline, beyond blue and other organisations involved.”
Despite his enthusiasm to help others, Mr van der Meulen can’t do it alone and is urging people to volunteer their assistance.
“We encourage people to come for a day or a week, to help the Yinnar community to recover after this incident,” he said.
“We can use help from almost anyone over 15 and up to 80, there’s all sorts of functions that people can perform in rebuilding.”
Although the work is relatively selfless in nature, Mr van der Meulen said volunteering provides a great sense of personal pride and accomplishment.
“It’s such a rewarding thing that I wouldn’t miss it, its great meeting people and the camaraderie during BlazeAid is a great experience,” he said.
BlazeAid door knocks and works with local council to identify those in need of support, however assistance can be requested by contacting Luke van der Meulen on 0438 747 566.
Similarly, volunteers can also register to help by contacting Mr van der Meulen directly.