During times of crisis, it’s heartwarming to see how we step up and help each other. Sydney’s ‘Stormageddon’ and every other natural disaster in Australia, shows us what ‘community’ means.
Sometimes the worst of times bring out the best in us.
The devastating ‘storm of the century’ in Sydney this week has shown just that. Ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of kindness in extraordinary times of need.
— Emily Burley (@emilyburley) April 22, 2015
Photo source: Twitter
And it’s something we see over and over again in Australia, when tragedy and disaster strike, we step up and help each other. That’s just what we do. This was definitely the case in Sydney and New South Wales – as the reality of the storm’s severity hit, social media started to fill up with offers of help: “It’s my day off and we have electricity. If you need to use the electricity, charge your electronics, get a warm tea/coffee, bathe your kids, or need anything picked up or dropped off, I would be happy to help,” offered a kind Samaritan. “FREE!! Anybody who is in need of any of these items with this weather I’ve got a bunch of blankets, 3 outdoor umbrellas and 3 lanterns to help with anybody struggling. I can also deliver if needed,” offered another. On Sydney’s Northern Beaches, even pets weren’t forgotten about with Allambie Vets offering to look after any pets whose owners were being evacuated due to flooding. In fact the groundswell of help was overwhelming even for the NSW SES, who with their hands full with over 11,000 requests for assistance from when the storm hit on Monday, put out a statement, thanking everyone for their offers of help and suggesting ways people can assist.
“Start in your own neighbourhood and see if any of your friends or neighbours need a hand with anything. There are hundreds of little things every person could do to help others around them during these tough times. The clean up and recovery from this major storm event will take time and many hands make light work.”
We’re guessing there were many already doing this in their community.
And we know this is only the tip of the iceberg – for every story we hear about, there will be ten fold more we don’t. But that’s the beauty of times like this – no one wants or expects thanks. It’s just what we do.
When 26-year-old Sacha Whitehead thought about the homeless braving the horrendous conditions during the peak of the storm, she was spurred into action and organised a collection of waterproof clothing and blankets. Her friends and neighbours had filled her car with supplies within hours. This young mum left the warmth and safety of her own home and her family, to help others in need. She has since gone on to organise another collection and drop-off.
Photo source: Instagram
So why do we help?
A study by Markus Heinrichs and Bernadette von Dawans at the University of Freiburg, Germany, suggests that acute stress may actually lead to greater cooperative, social, and friendly behaviour. This positive and social response helps explain the human connection that happens during times of crises. In other words, it’s makes us feel good to help others and it helps us feel part of our community. Never is ‘community’ as important than during times of crisis. For most as well, it’s a core value – help others; it’s as simple as that.
It’s also a time when we’re more conscious and grateful for the efforts of others. As we shelter in our warm homes, we think of all the SES and RFS volunteers working around the clock for days. The electrical company crews scaling ladders and reconnecting power, the council workers cutting trees and clearing debris, and all the trade people helping get our lives back to normality. It’s a time of respect and profound gratitude.
Storms, bushfire, cyclones, floods – the pattern is the same, we roll up our sleeves and help each other. It seems the most beautiful and generous acts of human kindness happen when we need them most.
Has a stranger ever helped you out like this? Or even better, have you helped others? We bet our Mouths of Mums community is full of kind hearts!