Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Seeking Sanctuary during Times of Flooding Disaster; Pastor Keeps Church Tradition

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Seeking Sanctuary during Times of Flooding Disaster; Pastor Keeps Church Tradition

Article excerpt

Byline: Aisling Brennan aisling.brennan@tweeddailynews.com.au

THE devastation of the March 2017 floods has paradoxically left the Tumbulgum community stronger than ever.

In the days following the natural disaster, residents like Pastor Rob Stuttle from Living Waters Church stepped up to the challenge of representing the community and ensuring their needs were met as the clean up begun.

But when the village was hit by the tragic deaths of Stephanie King and her two children, Jacob, 7, and Ella-Jane, 11, who lost their lives in the days following the flood after their car plunged into the Tweed River, Rob took on extra responsibility of not only representing the community, but also the King family as the accident made national headlines.

After falling in love with the riverside community in 2010, Rob and his wife Brenda decided to start an afternoon home group for locals before moving their church of 14 years in Tugun to Tumbulgum.

"Some people were travelling as far as Uki, Murwillumbah and Kingscliff up to Tugun and we only had a morning service," Rob said.

Through their work in the community, including teaching religion at Tumbulgum Primary and working closely with the Tumbulgum Residents Association, Rob and Brenda have worked hard to ensure the village thrives, especially helping those suffering from trauma after the flood.

"I'm a part of the community association and we've done a lot of (post-flood) forums, talking and meetings but there hasn't been a lot of action," Rob said.

"I don't think Tweed Shire Council understood the importance of having something to show that there has been change here.

"By people asking questions (about the flood), that can bring back the trauma for some people.

"They've just changed the flood sign and putting the memorial (to the King family) out, there's now some evident things, which has helped people through this process. …

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