Braving the storm: Wesley Mission Queensland’s unsung legends
At 6pm on Christmas night, a supercell storm tore through the Gold Coast leaving destruction in its wake with WesleyCare Coomera one of those hit hardest. Staff and residents, many living with disabilities, endured a difficult night without power.
On Boxing Day morning, daylight revealed that they were now not only facing a blackout, but also a heatwave. Without electricity for air conditioning, fridges or any phone reception for staff to call for help, manager Lisa had to think fast. She made the tough decision to evacuate all the residents due to the rapidly increasing heat and humidity.
Fortunately, WesleyCare Jindalee had respite beds to hold all the residents so they could receive proper care. She would just need the family’s permission to relocate their loved ones. But with the phone towers down from the storm, this posed another challenge. Thankfully, there was an area with a weak phone signal. She spent hours running back and forth trying to keep what little phone signal she had before finally gathering consent.
Vans were arranged to pick up residents while staff quickly worked on packing up their belongings. This included salvaging what little food they could from what was left in the residents’ fridges after the blackout, which were initially fully stocked for Christmas. Staff also worked on refuelling the generators every hour so food could be provided. Despite having no electricity themselves overnight and enduring an incredibly challenging day, the WesleyCare Coomera staff never failed to go above and beyond to ensure residents were calm and cared for.
Meanwhile, WesleyCare Jindalee, now having to accommodate eight more guests, worked tirelessly through a heatwave to prepare and set up the rooms. Their chef even prepared for the specific dietary requirements of each of the new guests. After a long day of hard work, the team successfully prepared for the Coomera residents arrival and wiping the sweat off their brows, welcomed their new guests with open arms.
But this was just the eye of the storm. Coomera staff continued to make the 65km trek to Jindalee all throughout the week to care for the residents, navigating floodwaters and rough road conditions amid yet another extreme weather event on New Year’s Eve. One staff member even lost her roof and still came into work the next day. Additionally, many were on leave during the Christmas holidays which meant staff had to work double shifts. The dust eventually settled as residents remained safe and well, back in the hands of familiar staff.
Despite the challenges they encountered during work as well as their personal lives, WesleyCare Coomera’s dedication to the residents and fellow staff is truly admirable. Wesley Mission Queensland is fortunate to boast an exceptional team of staff, united in their commitment to support and care for each other, while ensuring an unmatched level of dedication to their clients.