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Whilst La Soufriere volcano was erupting and causing major damage in the Diocese of the Windward Islands in the Church of the Province of the West Indies, Tropical Cyclone Seroja hit a 1,000 km stretch of Western Australia in the Diocese of Western Australia in the Anglican Church of Australia.

On 11 April, Seroja went ashore at Kalbarri, a town of 1,500, which is 155 km north of Geraldton, location of the Diocesan Cathedral.  It is estimated that 70% of the buildings in Kalbarri were damaged or destroyed.

The Rt Revd Gary Nelson, Bishop of the Diocese of NW Australia since 2012 is a noted conservative.  The diocese has so many natural disasters that the churches have been unable to afford insurance on their buildings.  

Nelson issued the following statement:

We are grateful for the offer of support through an ARDFA appeal. Cyclone Seroja has caused widespread damage throughout the Mid-West and parts of the Wheat Belt to homes, businesses, farms and essential infrastructure. It will take months, if not years, to recover and our communities will need much support. 

The town of Kalbarri has been very badly hit. More than 70% of properties are damaged and many livelihoods destroyed. The tourist town, which had just begun to recover with the return of visitors post Covid-19, is now in chaos. Our church will play a vital role during the recovery for many months and probably years.

Further south, the town of Northampton also suffered extensive damage, and our brothers and sisters are praying that this will be an opportunity for many people to turn to Christ in repentance and faith. 

In the Chapman Valley we are making urgent arrangements to secure two churches which have lost parts of their roofs. 

There has been extensive damage to the electricity network and communications infrastructure. Many towns and centres remain cut off from reliable contact with the outside world, uncertain of when basic infrastructure such as power and telecommunications will be restored. We hope to have more information on the extent of damage later today.

Our Anglican church family is caring for each other and, importantly, reaching out to the wider community to show the love of Christ and share the hope of the gospel.

We thank and praise God that we are not alone in our troubles. 

The Lord is our rock and our redeemer and the prayers of the saints throughout Australia and the world are a terrific encouragement.”

The Anglican Relief & Development Fund of Australia (ARDFA) is helping to marshall financial resources to restore buildings and infrastructure.