Cassowary Coast Regional Council

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December 20, 2019 - Ready to serve in times of disaster in Cassowary Coast

Help during a possible natural disaster in the Cassowary Coast region could come from an unexpected source – Meals on Wheels.

The long-established food service charity is usually associated with delivery of daily meals to pensioners and the disabled in areas across Australia.

In the Cassowary Coast region however, the charity was part of the area’s response capability during natural disasters, according to local councillor Mark Nolan.

“When extreme weather disasters strike, as they do from time to time in the tropical north, there would be a sudden influx of emergency services personnel afterwards to help,” Cr Nolan, of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, said.

“To support those personnel, they need to be fed. During events like Cyclone Yasi, Meals on Wheels volunteers effectively became part of our response team.

“In Innisfail they are actually based at our Disaster Management Centre. After an extreme ‘event’ they would make it possible for first-responders to do what they do. They are invaluable.”

Cr Nolan said that when Cyclone Yasi devastated the region in 2011, Innisfail volunteers for the meal service swung into action to feed teams of more than 1500 emergency personnel who rushed to the area in the aftermath.

Cr Nolan said he accepted the offer to become President of the Innisfail branch of Meals on Wheels when he learned about the wide-ranging impacts of the service in regional areas.

“They are invaluable all-year-round in helping our elderly and vulnerable residents feel socially-connected. It’s not just about providing a meal, many of our volunteers stop for a chat, or provide a kind word.

“People want to feel connected to other people, and our volunteers help make that possible.”

Cr Nolan said that State and Federal governments were currently encouraging families to care for their elderly family members at home, in order to help keep them out of aged care facilities until necessary.

In the Cassowary Coast, Meals on Wheels played an integral role in helping to feed the elderly who sought to maintain their independence and ability to see out their years in their own home.