Extreme rainfall across South Queensland Conference (SQC) and North New South Wales (NNSW) Conference has seen Adventist churches and schools evacuated and thousands of homes flooded.
North New South Wales
With NSW’s Northern Rivers region facing unprecedented flooding, several Adventist-owned buildings have been affected by floodwaters.
According to Adrian Raethel, NNSW president, Murwillumbah Church, Tweed Valley Adventist College, and Mullumbimby Church have parts or all of their buildings under water, and Blue Hills Adventist College has been closed.
In Lismore, the Wilsons River has risen to more than 14 metres, surpassing by more than 2 metres the benchmark set in 1954. Lismore Adventist Church has reported that despite the high water levels in the area, the church building, situated on a hill, still hasn’t been affected, but waters are lapping at its ADRA op shop—on the lowest part of the church site.
According to Lismore pastor, Tim Merritt, the church is doing its best to help and assist the community. “We’re at a spot here in Lismore that most of the boats are bringing people to, to then be taken to evacuation centres. We’ve been able to give people some hot soup and hot drinks,” he said. The church’s boat has also been made available to the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) to help rescue efforts.
The NNSW Conference is working on releasing an initial amount of AU$30,000 for immediate flood relief for impacted church members. According to Pastor Raethel, the Australian Union Conference “will be matching the conference dollar for dollar.”
He emphasised that this amount “is an addition to any support from the state government, ADRA, or any other agency,” and the conference is also planning to establish a conference-wide flood appeal for the Northern Rivers region.
Church members have been encouraged to donate to Adventist Community Services (ACS) through eGiving.
In South East Queensland, up to 18,000 homes had been flooded by Monday morning. In the state’s capital, the Brisbane River peaked around 3.41 metres at 9 p.m. on Monday. Flood levels in Gympie have peaked at 23 metres, and the town is currently surrounded by flood waters that are not expected to recede until Thursday or Friday of this week.
According to Irena Pule, SQC ADRA director, ADRA is currently planning a response to Gympie, one of the worst hit areas. “In addition, we have a team preparing in Toowoomba for a recovery response,” she said. “Our church is still responding to evacuees in Gatton and the Lockyer Valley. However, there are still affected areas that we have not been able to connect with, Logan region in particular.” Pule also urged church and community members in need of assistance to contact her.