A Great Way to Help Out Aussie Disaster victims…

February 19th, 2011

As Cyclone Yasi, hurtles towards the North Queensland coast, local residents from Townsville to Cairns are evacuating and scrambling for cover.
So far 2011 has brought Australia an unprecedented volume of natural disasters – with thousands of  families and businesses already affected by floods, fire, cyclones and storms Australia wide. There are many ways to help these disaster victims, many Aussies have already contributed to the various disaster relief appeals, and of course thousands of volunteers have chipped in with the massive cleanup efforts. But there has been, a quiet achiever during the recent crises called HelpOut, that has been literally “helping out” those people who have been most impacted.

We wanted to find a way that average Aussies could assist flood, cyclone or fire victims in a non-financial but practical way’ says Nathon Irvin, cofounder of HelpOut.

HelpOut offers a unique online service aimed at making it easier for disaster affected communities to help themselves – in many simple but practical ways.

Through HelpOut, people wanting to help, have been making all sorts of practical offers of assistance during recent disasters.  Offers such as : pet minding, loan of a trailer, driving the kids to school, a home cooked meal for a family in need,  and even offers of temporary accommodation during the cleanup have been listed  recently. ‘We’ve been really touched by the response to the service, watching Australians opening up their hearts and their homes to people in need.’ Says Irvin.  Here are a few real life offers of assistance taken off  HelpOut:

  • I am 70 years of age so not able to do too much heavy physical work but happy to help in any other capacity needed – Vehicle for transportation, Washing, Making sandwiches, Buying groceries, Any computer work that needs doing, Take people out for morning tea/cuppa chat etc, Food hampers, weekend holiday service…
  • A place for small animals to stay while their owners get back on their feet but owners too. There is one spare room available right now for any flood business. (From a mother and daughter in Ipswich not affected by the floods.)
  • We are offering families who have been directly affected by the floods free child care for children aged two weeks to twelve years. We have a bus pick up service if you do not have your own transport. (from a registered Day Care Service)

On the other side of the equation, people needing help to rebuild after disaster damage can use HelpOut  to search on a map of their own local area for offers of assistance that most suit their needs. Here  are a couple of real life pleas for help :

  • I would like help to strip the inside plasterboard from my house. The house was inundated up to the ceiling, during the recent floods. The plasterboard needs to be taken off for the house to dry out before any work to fix can proceed
  • Land behind house has debris from flood inundation, too much for my father in law [nearly 80]to handle, and I am widowed and live in NSW. Council is providing a skip. Any help would be very much appreciated. Needs to be attended to asap as the grass is growing rapidly. Thankyou

At the end of the day, HelpOut brings disaster affected communities closer together by helping them to help themselves, and if we can assist in that process, I reckon we’ve done a good job’ says Irvin. ‘

In recognition of the value it provides, The Ipswich City Council recently linked to HelpOut through the flood assistance section of  their website. This raised the awareness of local residents and business owners about the HelpOut service, and as a result, many members of the Ipswich community have received the extra help that they needed

The HelpOut service is currently available Australia wide, but is of particular benefit to those living or working in or near disaster areas. Locals who aren’t directly affected, but who have the capacity, however small, to offer assistance are in the best position to help. HelpOut is completely free to use.

If you live near any areas that have been devastated by natural disasters, help is still needed and we invite people who can, to check the site for more ideas on how to HelpOut members of their local community who are still in need. HelpOut can be found via the SpaceOut website at: http://helpout.spaceout.com.au

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