31st March 2017: The date the northern New South Wales village of Tumbulgum was hit with the biggest flood on record. Locals lost cars and whole households. Some residents had to be evacuated by helicopter as the Tweed River rose exceedingly fast after 700-800mm of rain over 24 hours.
Living Waters Church, located in the heart of the village, and the resident Pastors Rob & Brenda Stuttle were affected by the flood. After their own clean up, the church went into action to help the community to recover. Working with the local community association, a marquee was set up outside the church to coordinator volunteers coming into the village to help. The local hall was transformed into a recovery centre where donations were delivered and locals could come for needed supplies. Some residents could not even get to the shops as they had lost their cars.
A tragic accident occurred where a mother and 3 children travelling in their car slipped off a muddy road into the Tweed River at Tumbulgum. One child swum to safety, but terribly the others died. The event received national and international media attention and the local community was understandably grief stricken. The local Pastors Rob & Brenda Stuttle knew the family personally, as they were their SRE (Special Religious Education) teachers for the last 6 years. Pastor Rob came to the families aid with the media and the funeral, and is providing ongoing care for the father and surviving daughter.
Living Waters Church continues to assist the community through funds provided for aid from ACCi Flood Relief funds and other churches. They are also holding a Grief workshop at the local hall in conjunction with a community association, a local Christian psychologist and NSW district health.
Pastor Rob has met with the State MP and the NSW Governor to make sure that the community gets any government assistance available. Living Waters Church has grown through this event, as locals are seeking counselling. At a recent community association AGM, Pastor Rob was nominated and unanimously voted onto the committee, where his influence will continue to grow.