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Cyclone Lam and Nathan updates
Margaret Miller at Galiwin’ku Elcho Island: The lives of everyone living in cy-clone effected areas in East Arnhem land continue to be dominated by these two cyclones. Soon after the cyclones an outdoor church was up and running as the church building was being renovated. The Bible Translation Centre opened early April—but operations were not running normally.
In May tele-communication services were fully back and homes with minimal damage were restored for people to return to. The church was re-opened.
In June Phase 2 begins: 30 demountables now accommodate 300 displaced people in three different areas and 2 more clusters of demountables will be up by the end of August. The tent city has been packed up and returned by barge to wherever it came from.
Meanwhile, a bank-up of funerals since last December have begun to happen, about one every fortnight. The arrival of Margaret and Brian Dean was such a blessing as they worked 12 hours days for 5 weeks in June and July. At the Bible Trans-lation Centre, Brian repaired and refreshed all electrical and plumbing concerns, external walls and restored some broken furniture inside. A shadecloth donated by Adelaide supporters also was erected.
Back at the Scripture in Use residence for Margaret Miller: stairways, verandahs and crumbling furniture along with an ‘outback-challenged’ vehicle got heaps of attention, restored back into good working or-der. Margaret Dean’s time was easily filled up with helping in the kitchen, and cleaning up old second-hand supplies that provides so much support to the Translation work. We are all deeply grateful for so much practical support that has come to us in East Arnhem through Brian and Margaret’s visit. In July phase 3 begins: excavation machinery has now rolled into town to de-molish the 80 houses deemed unsafe.
The children’s response when they see the excavator in action is: “Ya! Nhäma ‘Terminator’!” I must confess it is quite confronting to see the houses being demolished. It is changing the landscape of Galiwin’ku totally and feels like another cyclone is happening. Blocks of vacant land are appearing all around the town. One building contractor has begun a ‘fast build program for 40 3 bedroom homes, with another building company moving in for the ‘slow build’ that could well take a couple of years for the remaining properties. The slow build program will also include training for local labour. Everything planned for housing so far has kept to schedule—which is just amazing for this remote spot!
Now in August, school has now returned after a much needed semester break for the whole school community, especially for the teachers who had the worst term EVER! With the tent city on the adjacent block to the school, meals were being served out of the Shepherdson College’s cyclone shelter. Teachers were led to distraction last term, not knowing who was coming and going. Hopefully with not tent city there will be some joy.
Galiwin’ku administrative staff over the past 6 months have run off their feet, putting in long hours, and not knowing how long they can sustain the pace. It is proving to be a very long year. All this work also requires accommodation for 120 contractors providing 20-30 training job positions for locals. In the coming months there are also plans for a new Barge landing, a Trade Training Centre, a new Emergency Health Clinic and a new ALPA store as well as renovation and maintenance for the 2 administration centres: the Shire Offices and Marthakal. A glimpse of the tent city “Ya! Nhäma ‘Terminator’!”
Before the cyclone arrived lots of people were watching it move on the com-puter screen, some people thought of it as the Lamb of God because of its name– Cyclone Lam, and some other people were reminded of God’s name– I am! I had to move from my iron house to my mother’s brick house. Dur-ing the cyclone we could feel the wind lifting the roof iron but it stayed on and we kept dry—God made himself shelter for us.
In Ramingining only about five houses were either directly hit or trees fell on them. Lots of rooves had to be repaired. Two houses had to be replaced. So many trees were uprooted and they have all been cleared away and the fences fixed. There was one tree that was not effected, it wasn’t even stripped of its leaves. It is the tree near the place where we have worship and rallies and we sit under it for shade. Also the cross outside the church is still standing even though all the other trees have fallen—God was sheltering us.
Margaret and Brian Dean