Red Cross volunteers and staff are on the ground supporting people affected by the Pinery bushfire in South Australia.
‘Our volunteers are stationed at the relief centres in Gawler, Balaklava and Clare, providing practical assistance, support and information,’ Jai O’Toole, Red Cross State Manager of Emergency Services, says. ‘People heading to the relief centres are going through a really tough time at the moment, and we’re doing all we can to help.’
Red Cross teams at the relief centres are also registering people with Register. Find. Reunite – a service that helps reunite families during emergencies. Anyone worried about their loved ones in the affected area can check for news by phoning 1800 727 077 or online at register.redcross.org.au/. Red Cross staff and volunteers have been manning the 1800 number since Wednesday night and will continue to do so as long as it is needed.
‘Register.Find.Reunite. is the simplest way to let your family and friends know you’re okay or to find out if your loved ones are safe,’ says Mr O’Toole. ‘Being separated from family and friends is one of the most stressful things a person can experience during an emergency. Not knowing where your loved ones are, not being able to get a hold of them by phone or email adds to that anxiety.’
Red Cross is also working closely with government agencies and emergency services working out how best to help affected communities during this difficult time, and also what sort of recovery support might be needed later on. 'We're not sure of the final impact, but we know that people need our help now, and they will continue to need it for some time yet.
‘Our hearts go out to those affected by the fires. If we can take anything out of this, it’s the certain knowledge that disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. We urge all Australians to make sure they are disaster ready, we see time and again how being prepared for a disaster makes a huge difference.’
For advice, tips and a free emergency planning guide go to redcross.org.au/prepare.