Just over a week ago, Cyclone Seroja tore through towns in Western Australia’s mid-west, leaving them and their communities devastated and destroyed.
People in Northampton, Kalbarri and Geraldton were without power as houses, buildings and farming equipment were demolished.
Many AFL footballers called these towns home, including West Coast’s Josh Kennedy, Jamie Cripps and Liam Ryan, and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps.
Cousins Jamie and Patrick Cripps shared images of the wreckage on Instagram earlier this week, extending their support to the communities affected.
The West Coast Eagles posted a video urging fans to donate to the relief fund. Josh Kennedy, who grew up in the area, has taken the mantle as the spokesperson.
On Friday night, this video was broadcasted to 55,000 fans at Optus Stadium throughout the game against Collingwood.
Speaking to the media on Monday morning, Josh Kennedy said the win was good for the struggling communities, but the resilience shown from them was even better.
“It’s good to get the win,” he said.
“A lot of people up north have been struggling fair a bit. It’s been quite devastating, especially knowing a lot of people up there and what they’re going through.
“Kalbarri and Northampton, they’re pretty resilient towns and the community have come together to help each other out a fair bit.
“Just seeing or hearing some of the stories about families with kids hiding in bathtubs with mattress on top of them while their house gets blown down – it’s quite chilling.“
The Eagles’ forward described the extent of the damage to towns, sharing stories from his family and beloved towns.
“My mum’s two sisters are up there,” Kennedy said.
“My aunt’s on a farm, so they’ve lost a fair bit in terms of machinery, sheds and the houses were okay… my aunty lives in Northampton in town, so she lost a fair bit of her shed, her roof collapsed in, a lot of trees were uprooted.
“There’s a lot of friends and family up there, it looked like a bit of a warzone… some of the photos coming through.
“The town had a bit of a busy bee on the Saturday up near the footy club, the old shearing sheds and the sheep sale sheds got blown down and it’s a bit of a mess. The goal posts up there were snapped I’m pretty sure, so it got hit pretty hard, but everyone was up there to help clean it up. good to see.
“I know the community centre up in Northampton has got a generator going, got some power to that, so they’re offering showers and dinners to locals around town.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, there’s been no power over the last week and a bit so a lot of people are struggling with that but there’s been a lot of things in place to help get some funds directed up there.”
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Like any small town in Australia, Australian Rules Football is a huge part of their community. This area in particular has produced a number of players past and present and will continue to do so going forward.
Kennedy has revealed a few players will be launching a relief appeal later this week with an unnamed past player being the brain behind the operation.
“There’s a few of us current AFL players and some past AFL players from Northampton who are looking at setting up a relief fund which will hopefully be released by the end of this week to raise some money and be able to direct fund directly to people in Kalbarri and Northampton who need it the most,” he said.
“We’re just getting the core group together. A couple of the past players have organised the fund so there will be more details coming towards the back end of this week, just getting it all finalised now.
“Hopefully over the course of the month this year, we can raise some money, do some promotion and get some money that’s directed straight towards people who need it the most.
“He [past player] was the one who’s instigated it all, he’s got it off the ground so it’s looking like it will be launched this week which is quite exciting. At least we know as players from that area that we can help direct some money straight towards the people who need it.”
One player getting involved in the area’s footy scene and driving to get it running again is ex-Cat Harry Taylor.
“Harry’s going back to the town to the footy club is huge,” Kennedy said.
“From all reports from preseason, with young kids rocking up to training, there’s a lot of people coming from Geraldton to play for Northampton because Harry’s there.
“In the footy club, there was a lot of drive to get the footy club back up established to where it was years ago and Harry’s a big part of that which is good to see.”
As for Kennedy and other players, they would love to go back and help out where they can.
“We’ve gotta work on times and for us to be able to duck up there to maybe do something in between games,” he said.
“We’ve got byes coming up and things like that. For a couple of boys over east it might be a bit hard, but hopefully we can get up there and do something if not for the season, then definitely for the offseason.
“It’s probably gonna take a long time to rebuild those towns. It’s probably gonna be a good couple of years before anything gets back to normality.”
If you’d like to help support the communities affected by Cyclone Seroja, you can donate at https://perth.wa.gov.au/en/lord-mayors-distress-relief-fund-cyclone-appeal
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