DESPITE recent floods in Carisbrook and the subsequent hardship, local residents have had something to look forward to.More than 300 people, on average, have been attending free community meals in Carisbrook each day for more than a week. The lunches and dinners were initiated by the Carisbrook Lions Club, and have been supported by the Rotary Club of Maryborough and the Maryborough Lions Club. Carisbrook Lions Club president Jefferson Hoober said volunteers from the clubs and from the general community had been tirelessly cooking meals for those affected by the floods to help them in their recovery efforts. The Central Goldfields Shire said about 275 homes were flooded in Carisbrook and estimated that more than 800 people were displaced. The Carisbrook area is home to about 1400 people, the council says. Mr Hoober said the aim was to get people out of their homes, give them a break from cleaning up and at the same time bring the community together. Central Goldfields Shire Tullaroop ward councillor Ian Robertson has joined Mr Hoober in taking to the streets in the hour before each meal, urging people to come along. They have driven through the streets in a ute using a PA system.“It’s getting them coming out of the house and realising that (other) people are in the same situation,” Mr Hoober said. “They are talking and the morale is getting better and better every day.” Those who have attended have been full of praise for the initiative. The free community meals came about after a number of events. Mr Hoober said he received a phone call on January 14 – the day when Carisbrook residents were evacuated – from the shire’s municipal recovery manager, asking if the Carisbrook and Maryborough Lions clubs could provide a breakfast at a relief centre for flood victims at Maryborough the next morning, which they did. He said both clubs were then asked to cater for the emergency services in Carisbrook on January 15.They also got help from the Rotary Club of Maryborough, which helped provide meals to the personnel in Maryborough. Mr Hoober said he sent an email to Carisbrook Lions Club members that night, asking them to help put on a free lunch on the Sunday. He said the fact that more than 500 people attended made it obvious to the organisers that the need was there. The Maryborough Lions Club and Rotary Club of Maryborough chose to support the meals soon after, he said. Most of the food had been supplied by Maryborough SUPA IGA and other businesses and residents had donated goods and services. The lunches have been held at the Carisbrook Lions Club Hall in Green Street. Mr Hoober said they planned to continue for the next couple of days.People are also encouraged to attend the Carisbrook Lions Club community breakfast from 8am on Australia Day.