Bushfire Support Special Edition
These last few weeks we have been amazed and proud of our South Coast Surf Clubs who have been the ultimate examples of the lifesaver spirit. Confronted with a situation beyond all control they provided sanctuary, support and services to a whole region. Many of our members experienced this support directly. There were the families escaping Rosedale who evacuated to the Malua Bay SLSC and have been camping on the beach with 4,000 other holidaymakers and residents and the George Bass rowers who turned from competition to emergency relief. We all have friends and members who live all the way from Nowra to Bermagui and we admire the members of these clubs for their work saving people on and off the beach.
Many of them are also firefighters, business owners, and community leaders, and will have to work hard to rebuild their communities. Many clubs in Sydney want to provide tangible support to this process and we are all committed to developing fundraisers and ways of providing this support.
At Bondi, the Board felt that a large hall, free for the weekend from Bronze groups, might be able to collect a few supplies to help those impacted by this unprecedented event. This rapidly became a focal point for the Bondi community who engaged with the Club in a way I have not seen before to actively express their empathy by donating, working and organising a substantial relief effort. The story of that is in more detail below. What it demonstrated beyond a doubt is that people trust the crisis support training, discipline and calm control that is the hallmark of a lifesaver. They believed our promise that we would get things to people that needed them.
I know a number of you did not find out about the activity for many days and I do apologise for that as the tempo and speed of the Facebook and Instagram-driven process, and the logistics co-ordination exercises initially consumed all communications bandwidth. Indeed by the end of the week the teams that were tasked with dealing with just these two systems had grown to more than seven people each including support from local Councils and politicians.
Many other Bondi community groups, Waverley and Woollahra Councils, local, State and federal politicians, our sponsors, and especially our sister club North Bondi have provided significant, direct and tangible support. It may have been held in our hall and boatshed, but it the activities of the community have been much greater than just our Club.
It is almost impossible to list all the people who have made this process work. With more than 100 helpers every day, I will not try at this time. What I will say is that you can be very proud of the work of all your Directors and members of the Club who facilitate the community’s response to a growing and changing situation and adapted to every difficulty.
I do have to single out Narelle, Pep and Brett who backed up day after day to provide clear calm leadership to massive teams of eager helpers. They managed to harness a whirlwind of enthusiasm to achieve a focussed goal and they are worth their weight in gold. The other Directors ensured that the Club’s day to day operations, beach operations and training were not impacted by the operations at the Club – indeed we had a very busy beach weekend with many rescues.
We have now dialled down the emergency support as the military logistic systems have taken over and will ensure the resources are flowing to the people on the front line in response to their specific requests. We have plans in place to ensure that the remaining collected and donated items make their way south as part of the relief effort in the quantities and locations where they will have the most benefit.
The recovery in the south is not even started. Indeed the emergency situation will be continuing for weeks, but we welcome your input to fundraising and redevelopment ideas we can offer to support our South Coast
Thank you all. It is an incredible privilege to lead such a amazing body of people
Bondi’s Support for the NSW Bushfires 2020
This all started around 2:15pm last Friday when Club President Brent Jackson posted a note in the Club’s Facebook group in response to questions from members as to what we could do:
“I know many members are wondering what we can do to assist with the bushfire support.
Firstly we can continue to patrol and protect Bondi as it’s likely that there will be very large crowds tomorrow given the weather forecast.
Secondly, we are supporting branch operations as requested, usually with IRB or Jetski qualified resource.
Finally, we can develop plans for fundraising and donations of equipment, gear, clothing etc for when the danger has passed and access is restored to the coast. Please let me know if you would like to help with this.”
Within an hour the full Board agreed that a fundraiser later would be a good idea, but why not take a few donations given we had a hall to collect them in. At 4pm Brent made the post and went to dinner.
On Saturday morning, Brett advised him that the post had been shared some thousand times and seen by 400,000 people. Even so, Narelle and Brent, with help from Tanya Jackson and Pep, diligently marked out a nice neat 4m by 6m set of squares in the Main Hall, collected a set of boxes for the weekend’s donations and grabbed a coffee at around 9am.
The Marketing, Surfer and Digital teams, ably lead by Brett Pattinson, take over the story from there …
Saturday – We Had No Idea
On Saturday morning we marked an area in the Main Hall to take all the donations we expected. There were six very neat squares for separate categories of donations.
It lasted about 30 minutes!
By midday we were enlisting the pre-patrol support of members of Nightingale to help with sorting. Local, State and Federal politicians had helped spread the word with their supporters, Federal MP dropped by with donations and an offer of help and Waverley Councillor Sally Betts came bearing boxes from Bunnings Rose Bay.
Mid-afternoon we sent a shout-out on Facebook to our two Presidents Brent Jackson and our Nippers president Narelle Moore who had been working all day tirelessly collecting donations and organising the troops.
“This what true leadership is all about. We should all be so proud !!
“Also thanks to everyone who has been at the Club helping all day … we are filling up the hall with great stuff to send to those in need … keep it coming folks.
“We still recommend anyone who wants to provide direct and immediate support to make direct cash donations as suggested by the RFS here https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/news-and-media/…/how-you-can-help“.
By the end of the day the Hall was pretty full but we still had no idea of what was to come.
Sunday – Community Answers the Call
The community came in force on Sunday. Families came. Friends came. Pollies came. Media came. Small businesses came.
Our Club became a meeting point for the community to show the world what can be done if we pull together as one.
The volunteers were awesome. There were more than 110 on Sunday alone, tirelessly working to organise, sort, pack and stack the pile of donations that had grown unimaginably over the weekend.
There were many standout efforts including:
- a huge team of packers and sorters
- the 20+ people who have offered vans and truck driving when the roads are open
- the Avis team for offering free trucks to use to do the runs
- the Pavilion and Sally Betts for arranging a storeroom for 60 tea chests of supplies
- the incredibly generous people who donated generators, a car, offers of pallets of baby supplies, pet food and many other things
- everyone who brought book library size boxes to aid the packing
By Sunday night we had some idea of the scale of what our Club and our community was doing:
“It’s really hard to put into words what has happened at our great club over the last two days. The members pulled together to make this happen.
“This is just the start so let’s keep this going for the next week.
“Our hearts are full and we are all feeling very grateful to be a part of the Great Bondi Surf Club.”
Sunday also saw the first of our deliveries to the South Coast. Paul Dan and Bree Cooper made the run to the RFS Nowra Headquarters with water, powerade and medical supplies arriving at around 8:00pm.
We were taking collections and delivering items based on what people on the ground were telling us they needed, delivering only to areas with open roads where we did not interfere with ongoing emergency operations. We also looked out for the safety of our volunteers by ensuring that all drivers had two drivers (one with First Aid training), direct communication support to both the RFS and direct to the Club and delivered only to major distribution points outside of fire zones.
“A big thank you to our volunteers who drove their own truck down tonight … YAY team !!!
Monday – We Can Move Mountains
Four truckloads of items left the Club on Monday heading south to Cobargo Showgrounds and more were packed ready to head off on Tuesday morning.
Peta Etsens took a load to Batemans Bay arriving at the evacuation centre at 8;30pm after having organised GoGet’s donation of vehicles so we could get supplies to where they were needed.
North Bondi SLSC’s delivery teams acted above and beyond the call of duty with three destination shifts and everything eventually reaching right to the destination! Stew O’Regan arrived safely at Cobargo Showgrounds at 10:30pm with his beautiful pooch in tow. Craig and Warren hit the Cobargo Showground evacuation store around 10:30 too and we were able to report that Cobargo was well supplied bar a request for another generator if possible. That led to the arrival in the Hall of a number of generators on Tuesday!
The delivery teams also arrived back having spoken to people with nothing who had lost their houses to the fires. Their specific feedback at this time allowed us to respond to requests for warm coats, camping gear and sleeping bags which we posted on our Facebook page. The response was overwhelming with people turning up within hours with exactly what was needed.
Tuesday – Trucks Galore
By 11am on Tuesday we had five trucks loaded with needed supplies and on their way to Batemans Bay and Bega Fire Control Centre. It was massive effort by the team.
At midday, Will and Mike (aka Toasty) headed off to Mollymook and Milton to deliver much-needed medical supplies, camping equipment, baby needs, toys, P2 masks, canned food, toiletries, cereal, pet food and feminine products direct to the people that need them. They reported back that everyone was so grateful for the delivery, especially the labelling on the boxes and that items were being transported out to those in need even before they had started their journey home.
Gil Sher arrived at Batemans Bay mid afternoon with a delivery of emergency supplies to the evacuation team who are doing an amazing job of directly distributing to people who have lost homes.
What we are doing hit the news with stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph. People were coming from around Sydney to drop of donations and help with sorting, packing and loading,
Olivia and Ben from the UN delivered a much-needed generator to Bermagui’s fire fighters and a large generator to the Bermagui Marine Rescue.
Woollahra Council sent a team of 10 staff to help with sorting and packing. At times, there were more volunteers than we could use and that’s saying something given the continuous flow of donations throughout the day. Many stayed around waiting out the front of the Club, helping out where they saw the need or when we made an immediate call for extra hands. People arrived, unloading entire carloads full of supplies and trolley loads of corporate donations. Harries dropped by with burn spray to treat koalas and kangaroos affected by the fires.
At 3:00pm we posted a call out for full sets of useful cutlery and crockery to be sent to Batemans Bay following a request from them noting that the delivery there was leaving at 3.30pm. People turned up within 15 minutes with dozens of dinner sets, plates, bowls, knives, forks and spoons!
Convoy Missions Australia arrived at 3:30pm with three trucks to be loaded and we were still overwhelmed with volunteers ready to help out – even though the day was supposed to end at 3:00pm.
Meals were provided for the drivers and volunteers by Ruppert Kitchen and Our Big Kitchen and they were on the road by 5:00pm.
What a community we have!
By Tuesday night, we were putting a hold on donations:
“A huge thank you to everyone who has donated goods and their valuable time at the Surf Club. We have been completely overwhelmed with items, so given the current situation on the ground, we are going to have to put a hold on accepting donations until further notice.
“If you have already purchased items, please come down to the Club to drop them off. We are here until Friday (9am-3pm).
“Currently, a lot of areas on the South Coast have requested that no more items be sent down until the latest truckloads of goods are sorted and distributed. There is simply no more space, which just shows the amazing generosity of our local community and Australians as a whole.”
We are still welcoming volunteers to help move goods onto pallets and into storage over the coming days.
Wednesday – Winding Down
This morning 12 pallets left for Batemans Bay, Bredbo and Cobargo. There’s one more load heading out to Batemans Bay this afternoon then we are going to start packing the rest of the donations onto pallets which are being moved to a warehouse in Clyde graciously supplied by Kevin Ryan. The forklifts and pallets will be supplied by Woollahra Council. Kennards Hire have also supplied a hand-operated pallet jack for the job. The supplies will then be despatched as the loads are requested.
We know you’ll all be happy to know that what we are sending is getting to the people who need it most. On the delivery now heading to Cobargo, driven by Bondi Icebergs Vice Captain Shane Keys and Sam, is a generator which is being taken to an 82-year-old woman who has lost her husband during this crisis and has been without power for days.
The latest update from communities on the South Coast is that there is a desperate need for generators – there are currently hundreds of people on rural properties living without power.
Everybody who has played a part in this should be extremely proud of themselves.