ACT on Alert

Smoke haze

Be Alert, not Alarmed.

Today, Saturday 4 January 2020, we are watching and waiting to see how the day will unfold. Praying for our friends and neighbours across the country, that everyone will be well prepared and stay safe. There are currently no active fires in the ACT. If you are wondering what you need to do to be prepared, here are some tips:

Keep an eye on the official updates coming out about the fires so you are well informed

Official sources of information for the Canberra region are:

ACT Emergency Services Agency

NSW RFS and

Fires Near Me (app)

They will have all the latest updates you need to make decisions about your action plan if fire threatens. The ACT Emergency Services are well prepared, have plans in place and are doing an amazing job. They need us to stay calm and be prepared.

Have you completed your Bushfire Survival Plan?

Here is the template from the ESA website: Bushfire Survival Plan

Decide if you are well enough prepared to stay and fight or whether you plan to leave early, which authorities say is the safest choice.

What to take

The Eurobodalla Shire Council has put out a great list for what to take to an evacuation centre if you need to evacuate.

Take a bag with

  • medications,
  • prescriptions,
  • important documents,
  • precious items,
  • wallet,
  • phone and charger,
  • clothing for all seasons and toiletries for a few days.
  • If you can, bring your own bedding – blankets, towels, swags, doonas, pillows – and your own food if possible.
  • People with babies and young children, please bring nappies, formula, baby food, toys and activities.
  • Pet food and bowls

If you are evacuating, make sure your loved ones know where to find you by registering your whereabouts online with Register.Find.Reunite. Registering online so family and friends can find you without contacting response teams allows them to focus on those most in need.

If you are travelling, make sure that you have food and water with you as there may be delays. Check that the roads are open via Live Traffic

Now you’re prepared, how can you help?

Pray

You can pray right where you are for the many needs around us – pray for rain; pray for people who have been impacted by the fires, those who are in danger, those who have lost loved ones, those who have lost their homes, or are waiting to hear if their homes are still there, those who have evacuated or are facing evacuation; pray for those fighting the fires and those making decisions about how to deploy resources and keep people safe; pray for the volunteers helping the people and animals impacted by fires across this country; pray for Australia.

There are church services and prayer services being called across the country, and prayer resources being shared. Join your prayers with theirs. Here are a couple of prayer resources:

Give

There are many ways that you can support those who are in need, now and in the weeks to come.

Local charities Vinnies and Anglicare are advising that financial donations rather than donated material goods (blankets, clothing etc) are the best way to support those affected by the devastating NSW bushfires at this point.

Local emergency response authorities are currently focussed on providing shelter, food and water. They have asked non-first responders to prepare but not act, to prevent confusion and over-crowding at evacuation centres.

“As our brave RFS volunteers and other emergency first-responders do all they can to protect lives and homes at this devastating time, Vinnies and Anglicare are doing all we can to prepare for the recovery phase and are working together to provide urgent assistance as soon as it is safe to do so,”

said Brad Braithwaite, Deputy CEO, Anglicare NSW/ACT.

“Both our organisations have been inundated with offers of donations and support to those in need, and the generosity of the public has been so encouraging to see. However, this early in the emergency response it is preferable that financial donations are given, as goods donations are not yet able to be accepted at emergency sites,”

said Barnie van Wyk, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

“We will put out a call for donations of material goods when we are able to accept them, it is safe to provide them and we understand what is most needed on the ground. Many of the local charity collection points are overflowing now but will be accepting donations in the weeks to come.

Anglicare is still accepting food donations which will be directed to their emergency relief hubs in affected areas as soon as possible. Non-perishable food and toiletries can be dropped off at their office on 30 Scotts Crossing in Canberra.

Disaster Appeals

Disaster appeals have been launched by various organisations. Donations help provide immediate assistance to people in need and help them get back on their feet. These organisations are well trained and positioned to provide services for communities in crisis. Here are some of organisations who need your support:

Or you can support your local Rural Fire Service.

There are also a number of organisations supporting our wildlife, such as:

If you aren’t in a position to donate money, but have other items to give, GIVIT is a platform that is connecting people.

You can also check out the group Bushfire Emergency Accommodation in Canberra which has been set up to connect people evacuating with emergency accommodation, a place to rest while passing through and suggestions for what can be donated and the collection points. There has been an amazing outpouring of support.

Volunteer

Most of the organisations listed above rely on volunteers to provide their services. They have information about volunteering opportunities on their website. They may not be in a position to train new volunteers at this time, but there will be opportunities to support them in the days to come.