BALLARAT is renowned for its community spirit.
When the chips are down and people are suffering, Ballarat opens its heart and offers a hand.
The generosity of spirit was evident during the devastating floods two years ago which hit Creswick and Clunes. It was evident during the fundraisers earlier this year for two sick toddlers who needed major operations.
It was also evident at the weekend during the massive clean-up after Friday night’s freak storm that lashed Sebastopol, Mt Clear, Mt Helen and Buninyong. The huge hailstorm hit the region about 8.30 pm on Friday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Not only were neighbours helping neighbours in the aftermath of the lightning strikes and hail, strangers were also helping strangers clean up the debris.
Within hours of the storm, offers of help came flooding in from parts of the region not affected by the devastating weather.
People who owned generators offered temporary relief to homes without electricity until power was restored. Even the local police were impressed with the offers of help from strangers in the community.
Buninyong Leading Senior Constable Kim Oliva said community help was much appreciated on Friday night, with some motorists even pulling over and helping with hazard lights when she was directing traffic on Friday night.
It was these selfless acts of kindness – combined with the tireless efforts of emergency service crews, like police, the State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority, who worked through the night and much of the weekend – that helped to restore some sort of normality to the affected areas.
The SES received 120 call-outs in 30 minutes of the storm, including 50 for building damage in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Even Saturday morning, the crews were working through 70 jobs across the Ballarat area.
Reader comments on The Courier website over the weekend summed up the appreciation felt for those who helped.
Marg wrote: “I just want to say a very big thank you to the SES who came out last night and secured my broken window and checked my roof as I had water running inside.You guys do a marvellous job .... so thank you very much.”
And Matt agreed: “... between the two storm systems, the CFA and SES were going hard with the chainsaws into the night. The fact that you could drive around Mt Helen at all this morning is a testament to the amount of work they’ve done and are still doing.”