FIRE APPEAL: Help cheer up those hit by disaster
AS THE tally of homes lost to bushfires in the Clarence Valley surges into triple figures, it is time to pitch our resources together to do what we can to bring little cheer to those impacted.
A month out from Christmas, The Daily Examiner, Grafton District Services Club and 2GF have launched the Clarence Christmas Bushfire Appeal.
“We’re targeting those families whose homes have been lost to an unimaginable natural disaster,” Richie Williamson told 2GF listeners on Monday.
Several drop-off points have been established for people to donate non-perishable food items, unwrapped Christmas gifts and dignity bags until December 16, to distributed by the Salvation Army.
“The great team at the Salvation Army have got a really good handle on who those that need it most in our community may be and they’ve kindly come on board to distribute whatever is raised in the appeal,” Mr Williamson said.
GDSC general manager Nathan Whiteside said many patrons in recent weeks had asked what they could do help.
“Some people have felt helpless,” he said. “But here’s a way we can band together to help those affected, to ensure they have some dinner on the Christmas table and some gifts.
“They’re trying to juggle so many other things going on in their lives, here’s something we can do to help out a little bit.”
As part of the appeal launch, Mr Williamson invited Nymboida Rural Fire Service captain Paul Johnston on air to describe the extreme fire conditions which devastated the Nymboida community on Friday, November 8.
“What it came to, we weren’t trying to put out the fire, we were just trying to save homes,” Capt Johnston said.
“We were just going from house to house and weren’t able to get to all of them. So in the end it was just putting yourself between the fire and the homes and hoping for the best.
“The radiant heat being pushed by those winds is what does a lot of the damage, and the spotting. The wind sending embers and burning twigs, branches, whatever, up to a couple of kilometres ahead of the fire front, that was the other thing that really struck.”
When Mr Williamson suggested the RFS volunteers were heroes for preventing the bushfire from being an even greater catastrophe, Capt Johnston turned attention to the residents.
“I think, for me personally, the heroes are everybody in the Nymboida community,” he said.
“They got together, they’re shoulder to shoulder, helping each other and doing. Not waiting for somebody to put something in their hand or do the job for them, they’re doing it themselves.
“I believe the community of Nymboida are the heroes in this one.”
While much of the focus during the launch was on the fire at Nymboida, the appeal is in fact aimed at all communities in the Clarence impacted by the bushfires, some of which may be between now and the end of the campaign on December 16.
“This is about doing whatever we can during Christmas time, not only for Nymboida, but people from throughout the whole of the Clarence that have been directly affected by the bushfires,” The Daily Examiner editor Bill North said.
“Obviously there’s still a bit of time between now and Christmas, so we still don’t quite know who or where or how many more will be affected.”