Recovering from Severe Tropical Cyclone Seroja
On Sunday 11 April 2021, Severe Tropical Cyclone (STC) Seroja made landfall as a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone on the Mid-West coast of Western Australia between Kalbarri and Geraldton.
The resulting wind gusts of up to 170km/hour impacted an estimated 133,000km² as the cyclone tracked southwest. It's rare for cyclones to affect communities this far south in WA, and many buildings weren't built to withstand a Category 3 cyclone impact. Hundreds of properties were either destroyed or damaged.
GIVIT has been working with the Department of Communities (DoCs) in 2022 to help affected residents with recovery across areas like Geraldton, Northampton, Kalbarri, Morawa and Mingenew.
Long road to recovery
In Northampton, young single mum Ada's* (name changed for privacy) house was severely affected. Her toddler son's room was damaged, and he lost his bed, as well as toys and clothes.
GIVIT provided new beds and mattresses for both Ada and her son. He was excited to graduate to a 'big boy bed,' and Ada was appreciative of a good night's sleep without a wriggling toddler in her bed! GIVIT also provided vouchers to local shops, so Ada and her son could pick out brand new toys and clothes for him.
Access to critical services
As well as providing people with essential items to assist with recovery, GIVIT also connects those affected to critical services. COVID-19, trade shortages, increased building costs and the remoteness of some affected regions has meant people have struggled to access the trades they need to rebuild.
Working with the Department of Communities, GIVIT funded the provision of building and engineering inspections and scopes of work to get families started on the road to recovery. People we helped included:
- A family of five living in a shed due to extensive damage to their home, while regularly driving 9 hours' return to Perth Children's Hospital for medical treatment.
- A couple in their seventies with significant health issues.
- A farming family struggling to operate their business and make ends meet due to property damage.
Corporate donations make a difference
With the help of generous corporate partner Hanes Brands Australasia, GIVIT provided more than 1,500 pairs of underwear, bras and other clothing items to a number of charities in Mullewa and Morawa.
One of the recipients was a lady undergoing cancer treatment. The woman took new underwear to help her feel more comfortable during her long hospital stays. She told the charity worker her illness had left her unable to work, so it had been a long time since she'd been able to afford new clothing.
We had so many people come through to the office to share in your generous donation. We went through over half the items even though we'd limited the number of items that people could take so that many people in our community were able to share in your generosity.
Once again, many thanks on behalf of the Mullewa community.
Helping a respite facility improve disaster resilience
Ruah Community Services supports people experiencing homelessness, domestic and family violence, and mental ill-health. Ruah operates a short-term respite accommodation facility in Geraldton for vulnerable community members. Ruah continues to support former residents after they leave. When STC Seroja resulted in the facility losing power, Ruah's services were severely affected.
GIVIT has provided a generator for use at the facility, improving the organisation’s resilience in the event of future power outages and disasters. The generator will mean perishable items and
medications aren’t lost, medical devices are useable, and staff computers are kept charged. The
generator will also allow Ruah staff to continue providing weekly meals for former clients even during power outages.
A damaged home in Kalbarri
Art on Wheels in Morawa
Morawa Youth Centre is a dedicated space for young people to relax and have fun in a safe and engaging environment. Slow recovery from STC Seroja, combined with the effects of COVID-19, was hampering the centre's efforts to host events and engage kids and teenagers in Morawa.
GIVIT provided a spray paint gun for the centre's Art on Wheels Youth Week project. 18 local young people came together to transform old cars into public art pieces.
Making room for self care
Psychological distress is common following natural disasters. Immediately after disasters, many people experience intense reactions, and for some people this can lead to long-term mental health impacts.
In Kalbarri, The Department of Emergency and Fire Services organised and hosted a free women's wellness event. Set across two days, 38 local women participated in self-care activities including yoga, meditation, beeswax wrap making and tile painting.
GIVIT provided coffee vouchers to three local cafes to all the women who attended to help them cement the new friendships they formed over the two days.
Wherever possible, GIVIT buys locally, injecting funds into local communities and economies to help with recovery.
Women at the women's wellness event in Kalbarri during a yoga session
Working with schools to help Mid-West kids
Around Australia, school chaplains support student wellbeing in over 3,000 school communities each year. These chaplains play crucial roles. Their conversations with students often lead to families receiving assistance that might have otherwise fallen through the cracks of traditional support channels. GIVIT works with hundreds of school chaplains nationally.
At Kalbarri District High School and Northampton District High School, we provided chaplains with grocery and fuel vouchers to distribute to families in the school community who were struggling financially.
At Geraldton Senior High School, we donated items for a program supporting teenagers who've experienced trauma. The group journals, packs hygiene care packages for vulnerable community members, and plays ball sports.
When GIVIT Engagement Officer Sarah visited Rangeway Primary School in Geraldton, chaplain Jenny was excited to show her all the items (pictured right) that she'd received from GIVIT and been able to distribute to struggling students and families, including face masks, feminine hygiene products, underwear, school shoes, toiletries and grocery vouchers.
"GIVIT has been a wonderful support to vulnerable students and families within my high school... Not only have the generous people of GIVIT been able to provide my students and fmailies with much needed supplies during times of crisis, but they've also helped me equip my office with much-needed student supplies for me to best support our teens during the toughest of times.
I cannot thank GIVIT enough and want to give a special thank you to Sarah Visser from GIVIT."
- Geraldton Senior High School Chaplain
How to help people impacted by Severe Tropical Cyclone Seroja
More than one year on from Severe Tropical Cyclone Seroja, many people are still slowly getting back on their feet. The effects of COVID-19, rising living costs, supply and trade shortages, and housing availability issues are all impacting recovery.
Listed below are items and services requested by support organisations, charities, not-for-profits and schools working with Western Australians affected by the cyclone. 100% of publicly donated funds received by GIVIT is used to buy exactly what's needed, so please donate funds directly to the appeal, or FUND an item or service below.
IKEA donation brings GIVIT staff to tears
A recent donation in Western Australia left GIVIT Engagement Officer Sarah Visser in tears, and provided some much-needed light at the end of the tunnel for a young First Nations girl caring for her unwell mum.
Lending a hand in Western Australia's Pilbara region
This year GIVIT has coordinated more than 50,000 items for people in need across WA.