Storm leaves community spirit in its path

Despite the igloos being destroyed, many of Mr Caputo''s crops survived.

By Romy Stephens

The Silvan community has rallied around a local farmer after his farming infrastructure was destroyed by recent storms.

Charlie Caputo has been on his property in Silvan for well over 40 years.

During the wild weather event that hit the Yarra Ranges on 27 August, his igloos that protected his crops were wiped out.

“It was dark and I didn’t see the damage until the morning,” farm owner Charlie Caputo said.

“I knew it was windy and a lot of the time when you get that type of wind you might lose one or two plastic covers. When I woke up in the morning I got a nasty surprise.

“It wasn’t something I had ever seen before in terms of the damage, I couldn’t describe it.”

Mr Caputo said there was “debris everywhere” following the storm but luckily the crops he had planted the week before survived – including chillies, tomatoes and capsicums.

The farmer estimated the total cost of damage would be at least $100,000.

“The crops are still there because incredibly it picked up the whole infrastructure and blew it hundreds of metres away and it didn’t hit the crops I currently have in the ground, so they are going to grow,” Mr Caputo said.

However, due to the igloos not being a permanent fixture on the farm, they were not covered by insurance.

Mr Caputo said he would likely hold off on rebuilding until just before next year’s planting season, towards the end of winter.

As the president of the Silvan Football Club, Mr Caputo is used to being on the other side of helping out when community members are in need.

But he said this time he was “overwhelmed” by the support he received from people at the club and the community.

“It’s a small footy club but a lot of great people in it have offered so much,” Mr Caputo said.

“Just the offers of support, the amount of phone calls, text messages and people that just wanted to come up and help was very overwhelming.”

Mr Caputo added that he was also extremely grateful towards the numerous people he didn’t know who donated to a GoFundMe that was set up to raise money for the rebuild.


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