I was staying at the Beachside caravan park in Tathra with my family when Mother Nature released her fury on Sunday. As the blame game begins, I’d like to play the thank-you game.
With no power, no phones and no warning, it is a miracle that no-one died as that beast roared into the town. And it is purely down to the people on the ground in Tathra.
Obviously, not enough thanks can ever be given to the firies and volunteers who put their lives on the line fighting the blaze. But it will be the acts of the local people that will stay with me. People like a young man called Connor Finucane and his family. Putting their own worries aside, they let those of us evacuated and walking along the beach pile into their cars – dogs, kids and all – and drove us to safety, and, I believe, went back to help more.
Tom and other staff from Tathra Beachside who made sure everyone was out and were the last to leave the park as the flames reached the beach. And who put their own worries aside to comfort and reassure others. Alison, who helped us out as we made that never-ending trek down the beach with a toddler and a dog. And many others who offered us their own water and towels and supplies. A local lady named Pat, who, with her daughter and her dog Frank, obviously worried about her own property, made sure we were okay and kept me informed of what she knew.
The people of Bermagui, whose generosity was just outstanding. When all of us bedraggled evacuees started arriving at the surf club, it was the locals there opening doors, bringing water and helping us out. Before too long there were people everywhere bringing supplies, offering help, accommodation and food.
These are just a couple of mentions of those whose actions affected me directly. I heard stories of local heroes everywhere.
And when the ash settles and Tathra starts to rebuild, that will be my lingering memory of that time – people coming together to help each other out. In the worst of times, we see the best in people.
My thoughts are with the people of Tathra. You have shown you are an amazing community and I have every belief you will come out of this even stronger.
Kaz Roberts,Swan Hill, Victoria
To the Bega Valley community, you are truly wonderful! I have not lived in Tathra since I finished school, but my mum is still there in the house we have owned for over 30 years, and watching how you all came together in this tragic time was just amazing and I’m ever so grateful you were all there and supported everyone.
To the firemen and people who stayed behind to fight this fire, I cant thank you enough. As well as saving hundreds of other houses, I’m pretty confident you saved my mother’s house in Bayview Drive.
To the volunteers at the evacuation centre, you have done an amazing job making sure everyone was looked after and had everything they needed, thank you so much. To everyone that donated, you guys are absolutely wonderful, thank you. To the vets in Bega and the people that were looking after people’s pets, thank you, it was such a relief to my mum knowing her pets were safe.
To the BDN, my mum kept her phone off most of the time, so your updates were fantastic and I was able to get more of an idea of what was happening. To the whole community, thank you!
And one more thank you, to Natalie Scott and her wonderful family – thank you so much for looking after my mum during this time. She wasn’t having a bar of coming up to stay with me or having me come down there. Words cant express how grateful and thankful I am that she had you, I don't think she could have asked for a better next door neighbour.
To the people of Tathra, my thoughts are with you all. Tathra will come back bigger and better than ever without a doubt.