Church helps give water tanks to residents affected by Australia’s ‘Black Summer’

Two years after devastating bushfires in Australia — a period known as the “Black Summer” — the damage can still be seen and felt in many areas. In the Bega Valley in southeast New South Wales, 448 homes were destroyed and four people killed. The 2019-2020 fires destroyed 58 percent of that area.

Many landowners lost almost everything they owned — not just homes, outbuildings, equipment, orchards and animals, but also water tanks and pumps. In remote areas, landowners rely on water deliveries, water pumped from streams or bores, or rainwater collected in tanks for drinking, cooking and basic hygiene needs. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worked with the Bega Shire Council and the Pambula/Merimbula Rotary Club to provide 66 water tanks to residents in the Bega Shire community, reported the Church’s Pacific Newsroom.

Donation information is displayed on a water tank in Australia.
Donation information is displayed on a water tank in Australia. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mark and Denise Hamstead, who are humanitarian and emergency preparedness specialists for the Church in New South Wales and Canberra, Australia, worked with the Rotary Club to identify families who were most in need.

The first tanks were ordered from local suppliers and delivered to the first of the recipients in early 2021. The last orders were placed in mid-2021 but COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns delayed deliveries until late 2021.

The Hamsteads visited the properties with other local Church leaders in December 2021 and heard stories of resilience and gratitude. One couple had no access to running water for two years. Another man had felt very much alone since the fires. And a young couple had not been able to regularly bathe their children. The visits and donations showed them more than anything that someone cared. 

Read more about the donations and the recipients in the Newsroom report.