From flooded to flourishing

Darraweit Guim Primary School reopens after it was flooded in October 2022.

Darraweit Guim Primary School principal Carol Booker said the classrooms looked like 'the inside of a washing machine' after the school was flooded on Thursday 13 October 2022.

The small but resilient school of only 44 students has reopened after closing for 6 weeks due to the floods that hit Victoria earlier this year. Carol said the damage at the school was significant, with not a single building or storage room spared.

'It was devastating. I likened it to a cyclone. Everything in every shed, in every room in every admin building was gone,' Carol said.

'There were very few things we could salvage. Though the forecasters had predicted a flood, the weather was more horrific than we could have imagined. We'd sandbagged but they were pretty much washed away. The rooms had about 1.5 metres of water go through them.

'We also had a teacher of 27 years lose everything in her classroom.'

Teamwork and cooperation saved the day

David Browne, acting senior emergency management support officer, North Western Victoria Region, said teamwork and cooperation made it possible to get students back in classrooms as quickly as possible.

The flood meant the students missed the next school day on the Friday, but the school provided them with work to continue at home on the following Monday before they relocated to nearby Wallan Primary School on the Tuesday.

'There was fantastic work from the regional staff and central staff, and great communication all round,' David said.

'Thanks to the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) for their quick turnaround in installing relocatable classrooms so quickly.

'The Security and Emergency Management Division also did an excellent job, as well as the Information Management and Technology Division, which worked hard to get the school reconnected.

'We worked with Telstra which helped the school to get optics reconnected and with alternative phone services.

'We also worked closely with the Macedon Ranges Shire Council to get the school up and running.'

Having a plan

Carol said the flood emergency served as a timely reminder of the importance of having up-to-date emergency management plans.

'Emergency management planning is just one of those things we have to do as principals, but now I know firsthand just how important it is to have one in place.'

Rising above adversity

Carol said while the flood was a devastating thing for the school to experience, she praised the students, parents and her staff for working together to minimise the disruption and upheaval.

Offers of support also came in from all corners of the community and Carol said at times she felt almost ungrateful, as she had to turn some down.

'The amount of support we were offered was astounding. So many people and groups offered their help; it all had to be coordinated. We've tried to thank everyone, but it was hard to know where to start as there were so many to thank and we could not accept all offers.'

In particular, Carol acknowledged the kindness of Wallan Primary School staff for taking the Darraweit Guim students in and giving them a safe place to continue their learning while their school was readied for reopening.

'They were amazing. They gave us what they could. We used their library and everything just kept going, which included assessments and report writing,' Carol said.

'We now have a camp this week, and we're going ahead with our Christmas carols.'

Find out more

For more information, refer to Darraweit Guim Primary School.