Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Winmalee Fires Up Close

As many of you will know, my mother in law lost her house on Thursday to the fires in Winmalee. Her house was one of 45 houses that were lost in her street (that's about a third of the houses in the street). She went  to work that morning and didn't have a chance to return to collect valuables. My sister in law and her family were also living with my mother in law at the time. She took the kids to her brother's house earlier in the day concerned that the smoke would  affect the kid's asthma. The fires hit so quickly that there was no chance to return to the house to attempt to save it or save any precious items. A neighbour who was evacuating his own house happened to hear my sister in law's dog in the backyard and was able to save the dog before heading to safety.

Yesterday we drove up to see what was left of the house my husband grew up in. As you can see there isn't much left. What surprised me the most was the spirit of the people in the community. People were sharing stories and helping each other out and smiling. We spoke to some family friends that live in the street and they were showing us what they had managed to salvage from the fire. You can see in the photos the war medals that this man's son had dug up. They said it was fun, like "an archaeological dig". Their whole house was gone, but they were seeing all the things they could be thankful for (like the carport to stand under and the caravan which was untouched by the fire and was space that was their own).

There have been so many people generously offering to donate all sort of items to those affected by the fires. We spoke to people running a collection center in the area yesterday and they are full to capacity with donated items. However, those affected by the fires are currently unable to accept more than a few items of clothes. Many of them are staying with friends and relatives and the priority is to sort out insurance claims and find longer term housing. If you have offered  or collected items the best thing is to hold onto them yourself until people have places to store them (and the head space to know what they need). At the moment they need our prayers and some financial donations. Another great suggestion is giving Coles, Woolies, Bunnings, Myer etc vouchers so they can use them to get what they need, when they need it.

We are so thankful that these fires have not claimed any lives and as my brother in law said "They are just things". Everything can and will be replaced in time. Thankfully our families are fully insured so we are looking forward to seeing a beautiful new home built where the old house was. It will be filled with wonderful new memories, but the old memories will live on in our mind and hearts.

I have added lots of photos below for those who are interested in seeing what the fire has done.

The drive in to Winmalee
A helicopter taking water to another fire

The items they managed to salvage

Trying to figure out what is what

champagne glass

My sister in law looking over the garage where her belonging were stored 

We found the door handle!

The pantry

I turned my black converse white by stepping in burnt books

Neighbours to the right

Neighbours to the left

The war medals that were found

Thankful for a car port and a caravan

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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