Push to make Beerburrum Hall official emergency centre


COMMUNITY groups are attempting to make Beerburrum Hall an official emergency centre after dozens of stranded travellers sought shelter there at the height of recent flooding.

THE strength of the Beerburrum community was at its finest on the weekend of February 26-27, as the Beerburrum Hall turned temporary evacuation centre while waters rose, cutting off the town which was aptly renamed “Beerburrum Island”.
Within an hour of a call going out about stranded travellers, Beerburrum Hall president Patricia Jutila had the hall’s doors open and with the help of many kind community volunteers welcomed visitors to shelter from the unrelenting rain.
It is the third time in the last 15 years the Hall has been used as an evacuation centre – once in 2006 and again in 2011.
“One of our members, Dee, shared that there were about 50 or so people seeking shelter at our local shops, including families with children and babies,” Patricia said.
“They needed somewhere to go and it wasn’t long after we opened the doors.
“I think I did the right thing opening up the hall given the circumstances, giving people somewhere to go.”
It was a massive effort from the community, with people donating supplies and volunteering their time, providing food, shelter, information and company to those in need. The hall accommodated almost 100 people over the two days; with some generous locals even opening up their homes to accommodate 17 stranded visitors overnight.
Patricia shared that some people were quite panicked, not knowing when they would be able to get home safely, with a few attempting to leave only to return as water still had not receded.
“Understandably, some people were quite panicked, but we were able to give them a safe, calming space to stay,” she added.
“We met some nice people and actually had a really good time together. There were games and movies to keep the kids entertained, and tea, coffee and lunch provided to them.”
Assistance continued into Sunday, with Beerburrum Hall’s Kirsty Levis sharing they had a call from four people stuck at Beerburrum Post Office early Sunday morning who were waiting for the hall doors to open, as well as another two who had sought shelter for the night in the railway station elevator; another two had spent the night in their car outside the primary school.
Patricia advised that they are in the process of registering the Hall as an official emergency centre.
She thanked the efforts of the community for coming together in a stressful situation, sharing she’d “do it again if I had too.”

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