At the beginning of the school year Townsville was devastated by record flooding following eight days of intense rainfall. Some 3300 properties were identified with damage ranging from minor to severe.
Ignatius Park College was particularly hard hit with some 73 families and 10 staff directly affected.
The level of flooding was unimaginable. Some members of the school community lost all their personal possessions and had to relocate to new accommodation while the cleaning and reconstruction work takes place. Rebuilding homes was initially expected to take six to 12 months.
“Adversity such as this shakes us to the core because it challenges our beliefs about ourselves and our place in the world. Adversity show us that we are vulnerable and events such as this can dramatically change our life and how we perceive the world,” says Ignatius Park Principal Shaun Clarke.
“Our EREA Touchstones calls us to be authentic to the Gospel values and be a truly inclusive community. I have been personally touched by the generosity of the Townsville people, who openly reached out to others in this calamity by driving their boats to isolated houses and rescuing evacuees or assisting their neighbours in cleaning their houses once the water had receded. Ignatius Park College opened its hall as an evacuation centre and had over 270 evacuees in the hall in the later part of the flood.
“Even months later, wonderful stories keep emerging about the heroic and selfless acts of kindness undertaken by our students. They include students going into homes and lifting elderly people into boats or moving them to higher ground, the hours many students filled sandbags or swept mud out of houses and businesses. These stories of hope reflect the essence of an Edmund Rice community.
“As Principal I was touched prior to the reopening of the college by the number of students who were willing to come into the college and clean desks and chairs affected by mold.”
While generously giving to the local community, the College itself received warm support from other schools in the EREA community.
“We were overwhelmed by the generosity extended to us by other EREA schools in Australia. Edmund Rice Education Australia is truly a national organisation and there has been no greater example of ‘Living the Touchstones’ than by our brother schools raising money, providing laptops and supporting purchasing stationery and uniforms for students who lost all their possessions”, Shaun says.
“The financial support from EREA schools nationally allowed us to also provide parents with fee remission for the first term while they dealt with the effects of the disaster.
“On behalf of the Ignatius Park College community thank you to all the EREA schools who have supported us. As a College community we have been touched by your financial generosity, prayers and thoughts.”