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Bushfires cause Christian camp chaos
On Saturday 7th February 2009 a number of Bushfires ravaged populated bushland areas of Victoria mainly to Melbourne’s North West. These continued to burn with varying levels of intensity until the last was brought under control on March 14th.
35 horrendous days in which, over:
Huge emergency responses were mounted, and the relief and rebuild effort has commenced. The National Red Cross appeal has so far raised over $245 Million and an announcement was made this week that all affected households would receive $15,000 towards contents and $35,000 towards homes they owned from this fund.
Anyone watching the Australian TV News on Saturday night would have seen reports on the commencement of the building of a Temporary Village in Marysville. This is being built on the ESA Marysville site. Referred to in this article as a camping and conference ground for school and church groups.
Christian Venues Association’s (CCI in Australia) Chaplains Laurie and Rohna Venables were in Victoria and visiting members as soon as access was possible. They spent ten days in the devastated region and provided immediate comfort and assistance where it was required.
Christian Venues also commenced collecting funds for affected members, staff and families. Donations may still be made (tax deductible in Australia) by visiting http://christianvenues.org.au/index.php?page=Bushfire-Appeal . These funds have been used, and will continue to be used to assist those within Christian Camping who have been affected by the fires.
The Association is excited to note that all of the centres affected by fire are keen to re-build. It is recognised by all that this may take a long time, but they are keen to be involved in their communities recovery and to continue the ministry of Christian Camping that has been so thoroughly established throughout the area.
Christian Venues has been active in meetings with various other associations and government departments as the recovery process gets underway. There has been a significant effect on the outdoor education and recreation industries throughout Victoria as the emergency progressed for such a long period and groups were unsure if their intended destinations would be accessible or available.
The busiest week of the school year for excursions saw the Victorian Education Department close many schools and cancel all out of school events due to concerns for predicted severe weather conditions. These cancellations, when combined with the cancellations that occurred near fires and further afield as parents and teachers expressed their alarm, have been detrimental to the whole outdoor industry and members would value prayer for quick solutions to immediate cash flow issues.
A number of Centres (including Lyrebird Park, The Summit (Delhuntie Park), Mill Valley Ranch and Forest Edge) have been used by Fire Fighting agencies to house strike teams and command centres. See http://making-a-start.blogspot.com/2009/03/just-few-pics-over-last-couple-of-weeks.html
The recovery of Victoria from these fires has been placed into the hands of a specially formed authority. http://www.wewillrebuild.vic.gov.au
Christian Venues Association recognises the support that has been received for its members through the worldwide prayer of the Christian Camping International network. Members within Victoria who have been affected are appreciative of the prayer support and the offers of assistance that have been received. This process will take a long time and we are here for the long haul.
A special day for Thanksgiving and Sharing will be led by our Chaplains on March 31st. Details will soon be posted to all Victorian members.
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