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Flood crisis brings out community spirit
Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald wreaked havoc on the Queensland coastline and northern New South Wales last week but not without proving that every storm cloud has a silver lining. Two LGBTI community groups are eager to bring hope and offer help to victims from inundated parts of the state.
Rainbow Displacements is the brainchild of well-respected Brisbane community member Kobi Cooke, who started up the Facebook group within a few days of Oswald taking his toll on the state. The group essentially acts as a bulletin board for people requesting help and those offering a place to stay, power to charge phones, vehicles to help the displaced and much more.
The idea for the group, that so far has almost 1,100 members, came to Cooke after he realised that there wasn’t any assistance service specifically catering to the LGBTI community and they may face marginalisation in general community evacuation centres and by relief services.
“I thought there may be a need for the community to realise that there might be some brothers and sisters in the community who might need help,” Cooke told the Star Observer.
“I remembered the last floods when a transgendered person was having to use an evacuation centre [in Brisbane], and I just thought that she would have not felt comfortable at all.”
Cooke who has a great deal of passion for the cause hopes that his group will continue to grow in Queensland and be eventually taken up nationally in times of crisis.
“I would like it to go further than it has, and maybe for others to help out in other states.”
Non-profit Gold Coast lesbian community group Feathers has also mobilised its members to help the ravaged Lockyer Valley town of Laidley. The group decided to help out Laidley flood victims after a call was put out for any available assistance.
“I know it’s kind of odd from the girls on the Gold Coast going to Laidley to help, but we also have friends that live there and have lost their home,” Feathers treasurer Charmaine Char said.
On February 2, the group set out armed with brooms, shovels and wheelbarrows to help prove that “a little girl power goes a long way”.
The Lockyer Valley Council has welcomed the group into their community following their offer of assistance.
“It is totally irrelevant that we are ‘gay’ women, we are simply a group of volunteers who are a part of a whole community if we all work together, the possibilities are endless,” Char said.