Bringing out the good: the community spirit is alive in Ballarat 

THE worst of circumstances often brings out the best in the human race.

Last Friday night’s storms, which cut a swathe through southern areas of Ballarat, might have been brief but nonetheless were highly destructive.

Roofs were ripped off houses, rain and hail destroyed cars and trees fell on powerlines and homes. Schools were shut and community centres suffered water damage.

 The insurance bill will stretch into the millions.

Yet out of the bleak synopsis came a shining light. There, on Saturday morning, were neighbours and volunteers out at the crack of dawn in the streets of Mt Helen and Mt Clear, the buildings in Sebastopol and further abroad, helping to clean up the mess.

The State Emergency Service, City of Ballarat and other authorities combined with the public to lend a hand.

Amid the carnage, everyone not only survived but, in another sense, thrived.

It’s the community spirit some say died long ago that excels in these circumstances. The warm sense of achievement against the odds. The kind of spirit our nation was built on.

While the clean-up continued into the working week, communities across the world celebrated community spirit on the International Day of the Volunteer.

It might not have wound its way through many valleys and peaks, but a speech delivered by Fr Bob Maguire to Ball volunteers on Tuesday hit the spot.

It starts with one person and becomes a special movement, Fr Bob told his audience.

Volunteerism is the unreported consequence of positive action.

After the unexpected November blip of temperatures soaring into the mid-30s, today Ballarat will experience the real start of summer.

A searing sun and driving winds are predicted for central Victoria, sparking the first serious fire warning for the season.

The fire seasons of the last couple of years have taken on a new meaning since the horrific Black Saturday bushfires.

Complacency doesn’t live in Victoria any more when it comes to fires. 

Our thoughts at this time of the year go to the Country Fire Authority personnel, made up largely of volunteer members who live and breath their local communities.

It is these people whose dedication to the cause is tempered in the public eye by the dangers they face.

The challenges our city, our state and our country face are enormous in many fields or home, business and community.

But, as Fr Bob said this week, everyone has a role to play.

andrew.eales@thecourier.com.au

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