…of drought and flooding rain…

Ash Wednesday Fires 1983

I heard the news this morning about one of the first bushfires in the Blue Mountains in NSW, and this was quickly followed by worrisome radio chatter about the potential for another bad season. It seems the welcome rain that has eased the drought in many parts of Australia has had this expected, but unfortunate, side effect.

Lions Clubs have been very active over our history with quick and appropriate responses to disasters. We all recall our mammoth community service response to the Black Saturday bushfires; soon after being challenged by the devastating flooding in Eastern Australia in 2011.

It’s worth remembering that helping out in disasters is ‘core – business’ for Lions Clubs.

A proud history

Brian Stevenson in Look Forward with Pride”documents

Look Forward with Pride - Brian Stevenson

the strong contribution of Lions Service Clubs in National and Regional Disaster relief.

  • 1955 – Maitland Floods
  • 1967 – Tasmanian and Blue Mountains Bushfires
  • 1974 – Brisbane Floods
  • 1975 – Cyclone Tracey
  • 1983 – Ash Wednesday Bushfires
  • 1989 – Newcastle Earthquake
  • 1990 – Charleville Flood
  • 1994 – Blue Mountains Fires
  • 1995 – Barwon River Floods

This record continues:

  • 2006 – Cyclone Larry
  • 2009 – Black Saturday Bushfires
  • 2009 – Widespread Floods
  • 2011 – Queensland and East Coast flooding

Many Lions we will know that we were one of the first to be on the ground following the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in Darwin, and this ultimately led to the creation of our very successful Australian Lions Foundation.

Disaster Relief shipment
Lions sending fodder to keep stranded stock alive

Lions make things happen

So what do Lions Clubs do in these emergencies?

Many Lions members are part of the regular and volunteer emergency services. Lions Clubs often staff evacuation centres, and support the frontline emergency services; keeping them fed and looked after.  Lions members are on the ground caring for those who have been displaced by emergencies and who have lost their loved ones.

Lions also draw on our own incredible national and international networks to provide quick and substantial injections of funds and other material support to help those in immediate need.  Lions can respond quickly, and because Lions members are closely networked within the communities they are helping, you can be sure that assistance gets to the right people!

Look at this great testimonial that appears on the Lions Club of Forest Hill website.

“Testimonial from a Recent Member

Bathurst Club sends whitegoods to Toowoomba
Bathurst Club sends whitegoods to Toowoomba

In the middle of 2007 I decided to join the Forest Hill Lions Club – for many different reasons.

The main reason?  The Ash Wednesday bushfires.  Support from a combined Lions effort was the first major step in the recovery process for my family – because after all that fighting for life, and suffering the devastation of a lifetime’s work in primary producing, here were some wonderful people who cared enough to come and stand in front of my parents and just ask…. “What do you need the most to keep going?”

Those few simple words were the turning point from rock bottom for my entire family and will not be forgotten.  The Red Cross were great and made sure we had food –  but the Lions gave us hope and invaluable support to start again.”

You can read more at their website here.

Of course, all of this effort and success doesn’t happen by magical means.  There is a lot of hard yakka by the 30,000 odd Lions members around this country in fundraising, developing disaster preparedness, and turning up – day after day – when disaster strikes to do what we do best.

Rob Oerlemans
Executive Officer
Lions Australia

Some of the images come from these archived issues of our members magazine. Read the stories, here:

The Lion – March 1983 – Lions Respond – Ash Wednesday

The Lion – Dec 1983 – The Dandenong Ranges fires – Lions story

Lions Australia Alert(Emergency) Program Blog

Lets all hope for a quiet and happy summer!