Thanks to the wonderful support of our donors, ANGLICARE Sydney was able to raise approx. $300,000 for our Bushfire Emergency Appeal. These funds went towards vital resources that enabled more than 350 trained volunteers to go into bushfire-affected areas such as the Blue Mountains, Lake Macquarie, Wingecarribee and other affected regions.
Such was the ferocity of the blazes, that some people were trapped in life-threatening situations. One of our Parish Partnerships Team members, Mat Teakle, provides an amazing cameo taken from a conversation with a bushfire victim he met when he was volunteering to help those who had been affected by the fires. He spoke with “Jim”, an older man who found himself alone on his property fighting to save his home – and who very soon found himself trying to save his own life.
“Jim thought that he could save his house, when through quick action he put out a small fire that started in the eaves by punching a hole through it and spraying it with water. It was only when he went around to the front and saw that both cars in the garage were on fire that he knew the house was gone. Jim’s only remaining animal was his small dog Ollie so he gathered up his terrified pet and made his way to the open patch of lawn at the front of the property.
Jim was being chased by fire all the way down his own driveway. He ran past the burning cars and fences; the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see anything and it sounded like a ‘jet engine’. The radiant heat was intolerable and only by familiarity with his own land did he find his way to the patch of grass and then lay down huddled next his dog. “This is it Ollie” he said. He couldn’t get to the road, the fire on the other side was just as fierce.
He was trapped, only alive now because of the little open patch of grass and a few burned saplings at the front of the property and next to the driveway. Jim said he didn’t know what would happen, he tried to stay positive, but with the unbelievable smoke and radiant heat, that was a hard thing to do. A police four-wheel-drive came ’screaming’ down the road and onto the driveway, the two police officers jumped out and yelled to Jim. They had come looking for him because his granddaughter had rung the police from Kiama. Another police car arrived shortly after Jim and Ollie were evacuated.”
This amazing story is only one of the many situations which our volunteers came across. Thankfully, through our appeal, we were able to provide financial aid where needed, emergency food relief and vouchers for clothing from our ANGLICARE Shops, counselling and pastoral support and respite services to families that had members of their households who are elderly or disabled. In disasters like this, even being having people organise meals and provide access community services meant so much.
Thank you so much if you were a part of this amazing response to people in need. We are very glad we were able to be there through the generous support of so many.