In the event of a significant emergency this summer, relief centres in the Wimmera will operate differently due to Coronavirus restrictions.

In most disasters, an Emergency Relief Centre (ERC) is established to provide information about the emergency and referrals available to help a community cope.

While most services will still be available, there will be no physical relief centre for people to attend.

Wimmera Emergency Management Co-ordinator John Hutchins said social distancing rules meant it may not be possible to establish the usually crowded meeting place that people may be familiar with during a disaster.

“Instead, there will be a virtual relief centre involving Council emergency management staff working hard behind the scenes to provide affected people with information and deliver access to relief support services to assist with their immediate needs,” Mr Hutchins said. If you have been displaced from your home It is important to register via the Red Cross “Register Find Reunite” website and then contact your local Council Office if you require further support or information. It is also very important to complete your redi-plan and remember to plan for the relocation of your pets. It is important to note that if you are feeling anxious, concerned or alone, please reach out and talk to someone about your situation. You are not alone in this.

“We hope that the virtual ERC provides the support that our community needs during an emergency. We will continue to review and adapt its content as the situation evolves to ensure that it stays informative, responsive and relevant.”

Mr Hutchins said, during an emergency, people who are unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms, should isolate from others and wear a face covering and get tested as soon as possible.

“If you are in quarantine or isolation due to coronavirus, you can leave your home if you are in an emergency or your home is unsafe – but try to get back into self-isolation as soon as you safely can.”