June 16, 2024 10:38 PM

Merriwa to the Rescue



It has been a long nine years coming for the Merriwa Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA), but finally they are one significant step closer to having the new shed they so desperately need.

It was announced last week that the group had been successful in their application for $1.4 million from the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Federal Grants Program, which is focused on supporting communities affected by the catastrophic conditions in 2019/2020.

“We had the St Ivans fire and we struggled with the infrastructure that we had then, we learnt the inadequacies of what we had,” Andrew explained of the 2017 blaze.

“Then a couple of years later to be faced with the same devastating impact again, we needed something for the community to be able to have a central source of information, somewhere for the emergency services to work from.”

The funds will be used to knock down the existing shed, taking with it the leaking lights, black mould, and white ant damage, to make room for a whole new home for the vehicles, trailers, training and meetings.

“We won’t know ourselves and probably when we switch the lights on we won’t have to worry about if there has been rain in the shed and water running over power points and all those sorts of things,” Andrew said with a laugh.

“They (volunteers) face enough unfavourable conditions just in their commitment of what we do, so having somewhere nice that we can come back to, it’s going to make a world of difference to the welfare to all of our members.”

The VRA report to assist at a range of incidents, from traffic accidents, storm damage, flooding, and to offer assistance to other emergency services at fires and with traffic control.

It is not just the VRA volunteers who are celebrating the announcement, volunteers have been fielding excited calls from across the region and in their own community from people who are just as pleased.

“We’re just absolutely overwhelmed, so thrilled that we’ve finally been found on a list of priorities and we’re really thankful for the community for their support and backing,” Andrew said.

“It’s a great outcome for the community, it’s a great outcome for the VRA, and we’re just really thrilled that everyone has been able to come together so that our community and our squad can be well supported into the future.”