Kerang, Vic. Australia – Jan. 2011: Brethren community to the rescue as devastating floods surround township.
In the week of the 16th of January 2011, it became apparent that unusually high rainfall for the month of January was bound to cause trouble. The inches of rain on the normally dry central and northern Victorian regions, filled beyond capacity the small reservoirs and dams that were built to store run off.
These storage overflows flowed inland and ended up converging on Kerang, a small town in Northern Victoria with under 4000 residents, flooding many other towns in the process.
By the Wednesday 19th of January the town of Kerang was evacuated due to a threatened breach of one of the critical levee banks protecting the town. With 60-70% of the town evacuated, the remaining small number had limited resources. Members of the local Plymouth Brethren community however, set to work, with other community groups, to assist the emergency services fighting the inland sea that had surrounded the town.
Brethren members set up a temporary, but substantial sand bagging manufacturing plant producing over 200,000 sandbags, while also providing copious amounts of food for the willing local residents that wanted to help. Brethren also worked in shifts throughout the crisis with townsfolk, SES and the Army on levee watch and food supply to emergency crews. Brethren arranged the supply of 3km of plastic sheet and pump components and servicing for flood control pumps for the saving of a strategic power station. They worked with the local hospital and Lion’s club to coordinate food deliveries to other neighbouring towns and stranded residents in the outlying areas of the town.
Local residents and Emergency Services were full of praise and appreciation for the unselfish devotion to the community displayed by the Brethren during the two week ordeal. After the event, the Brethren also provided a clean-up team and equipment to assist local residents, incl. the Ibis Caravan Park – see article: Northern Times Feb 22nd.