Mt Dandenong Preschool still working from temporary site after storms
Children and educators at Mount Dandenong Preschool are continuing to operate from borrowed space at Olinda Primary School after their old site remains unrepaired nearly a year after it was damaged during winter storms.
The previous building, on the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road was condemned because of the damage to the structure from a fallen tree and the presence of asbestos. Staff, families and children have not been made aware of a clear path forward, leaving them concerned.
While the front of the premises remains accessible, staff say they have not been allowed onsite to salvage materials, and the sight of the damaged building, with tarps on the roof and trees on the road is a point of grief for the community.
“I’m almost angry that it’s [still] in that space,” Yarra Ranges Kinders Senior Operation Manager Marta Pegoiani told local publication Ranges Trader.
“There’s no way that we can forget it, I still see tarp and trees on the road when I drive past.”
Staff from the preschool report that children are still experiencing stress from the event, and that many in the community aren’t aware that the preschool is still operating, albeit from a different space.
“We just want our kindergarten to be rebuilt…to build a sense of community,” Victoria Clarke, an educator from the service said.
CEO of Yarra Ranges Kinders, Gaby Thomson, said the Mount Dandenong Preschool’s current site at Olinda Primary School is only temporary, but does not know how long the staff and children will remain there.
The storm event was significant, damaging 177 properties, 76 of which are now uninhabitable. “Tens of thousands” of trees fell, blocking roads and bringing down telephone and power lines leaving thousands without heating and phone or internet connection for weeks.
Almost $14 million in funding has gone toward recovery efforts, with the local council estimating it will take at least five years for communities affected to rebuild.
Residents who have experienced trauma, damage or loss as a result of the June storm have been encouraged to discuss their circumstances with the Victorian Storm Recovery Support Program that is coordinated by Windermere by contacting 0408 521 320.
Residents can also contact Council’s Community Recovery Team on 0477 056 265 for advice or connection to a range of support services.
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