Stand­ing strong for the lo­cal com­mu­nity

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

SERGEANT John Dick­in­son barely slept for at least five days af­ter Cy­clone Deb­bie hit.

But while there was sub­stan­tial dam­age to at­tend to at his Whit­sun­day home, his first pri­or­ity in the di­rect af­ter­math of the cy­clone was help­ing oth­ers.

Sgt Dick­in­son, who runs the Whit­sun­day PCYC, en­sured the club op­er­ated as a make-shift evac­u­a­tion re­cov­ery cen­tre, which with the help of the Red Cross and Sal­va­tion Army was able to cater food-wise for be­tween 250-300 peo­ple in­clud­ing tradies, vol­un­teers and peo­ple who lost their homes.

Mr Dick­in­son said the emo­tional toll suf­fered by many in the com­mu­nity was pal­pa­ble.

“It’s a ma­jor event and caused a lot of dam­age and just shows the com­mu­nity spirit and how well smaller com­mu­ni­ties band to­gether and work to­gether to help each other out,” he said.

“At one stage we had some­one come from Dingo Beach who col­lapsed here at the hall and paramedics sorted her out and gave her a meal be­cause she hadn’t eaten for a cou­ple of days.

“We were hav­ing peo­ple com­ing to the club and break­ing down in tears be­cause they lost ev­ery­thing.”

The Whit­sun­day PCYC, which has stood strong since Sgt Dick­in­son es­tab­lished it in 2002, took a bat­ter­ing from the in­side, with him­self, Cr Ron Pet­ter­son, the PCYC-run Youth Man­age­ment Team mem­bers and par­ents hard at work for three and-a-half days to tidy up and re­solve the wa­ter dam­age.

“There has been talk that from the out­side PCYC didn’t sus­tain much dam­age but when you get in­side it’s a dif­fer­ent pic­ture,” Sgt Dick­in­son said.

“I set the club up from scratch in 2002 and it is pretty dis­heart­en­ing to see.”

In light of dam­age caused to the club, he said it could take un­til Novem­ber be­fore it re­turned to nor­mal.

But de­spite the chaos in the af­ter­math, PCYC has still been able to or­gan­ise a range of reg­u­lar gym­nas­tic ac­tiv­i­ties from the Ki­para hall.

Mr Dick­in­son said he wanted to ac­knowl­edge the many other he­roes who helped in the af­ter­math in­clud­ing the po­lice, army, Sal­va­tion Army, Queens­land Fire Ser­vice, Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil and more.

PHOTO: CHAR­LOTTE LAM

HERO HELP: Sgt John Dick­in­son played a vi­tal role in the af­ter­math of Cy­clone Deb­bie.

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