Friday, 14 February 2014

"I was scared of the fires mum" Lala 3.

We are having a very stressful few days, and it seems to still be going.

We started our Sunday morning on the 9th of Feb hanging out in our backyard having a pool party.  A pool party at our place consists of the girls sitting in their little mermaid shell pool eating watermelon and listing to Katy Perry.  After about an hour husbandito suggested that we head down to the local outdoor pools, so we all could have a cool off, I made us sandwiches packed our drink bottles and towels and off we went.  By the time we got down there and into the pool it had become extremely windy, so it was now HOT and windy, and we all know that is not a great combination when you live in a small dry rural town.  All of a sudden I got a feeling, it was the same feeling I had had on black saturday 5 years ago, I checked my CFA app and there it was, the first of 2 massive fires that would threaten to impacted our small town over the next 5 days.  At that stage this fire was dangerous, but not so big to cause too much alarm, it was over 20 kilometres away from us and there were already 23 fire truck at the site.  Still we decided it was best to get home and double check we had everything in our fire ready bag.  Driving up the main road our local CFA trucks had started to line the street, ready to head off and help out, this was about an hour after the first alert, within the next hour the next town over was is dire danger, and our little town was now basically surround with fires all about 10 to 20 kilometre away.  I mean every possible way out of the town was been blocked off because of the fires, we were still 'safe' at this stage, but we were pretty much trapped, no way we could get to our safety houses.  Things were happening extremely fast, we were now placed on the 'watch and act' alert which is really when you need to decided if you want to leave of stay, we had bags packed, but no where to go, so we started setting the house up for fire plan B, every bucket, shell pool and watering can was filled with water so we could defend off ember attacks if it got to that.  We closed the house off, moved gas bottles, and basically sat and listened to 774 abc to stay informed.  Then we got an out, we could safely make it to my Aunties place, but if we wanted to go we needed to go now. Of course this happened right in the middle of cooking dinner, so I started packing the car up and making phone calls while husbandito fed the girls, because we were well set up to stay, husbandito decided that he was going to stay while i took the girls away for the night.  A lot of people didn't understand why we did this, but it really came down to us believing that the only posing danger that night would be ember attacks, and we would feel better have him here with our neighbours being able to help stop any spot fires in our court.  Honestly if we didn't have children I too would have stayed, I really just wanted the girls out of there.

The following day we had the advice that it was safe to come back to town.  So we went about our day, as you may have noticed from above husbandito was and is still on R&R and holidays through all this, so we headed out to our fav local cafe for coffees and baby chinos, then we decided that seeing as everything had calmed down we might head down to the big smoke for a few hours.  This is something I wish we didn't do, it just ended up causing us all extra stress.  Pretty much as soon as we arrived I received an alert that our town was once again on watch and act, with in minutes my mum was on the phone too, we decided that we would finish eating our lunch then head home, we were at the car when my mum called again with news that the main way into the town had once again been blocked off and maybe we shouldn't go back at all.  Nope, we needed to get back there to get my dog and our valuables bag, which I had only just taken out of the car.  It was the longest drive home in history, it was the first time I really let my stress take over and it was the first time that Lala (3) became upset about what was going on.  Only 2 minutes out of the town we heard on the radio that the town had been put into lock down and no one could get in or out, this was totally false and made me mad that someone had called in to say something like that that hadn't been confirmed.  We pulled up, leaped out of the car, leaving the girls strapped in the back, and ran inside, I closed all the blinds, grabbed our packed bags and Bessie the dog, Husbandito grabbed his stuff, litres of water and our phone charges, which we really needed as both of our phones had died on the drive home due to all the alerts coming in from the CFA app.  We got out of town fine, headed to the relief centre, only to be there an hour and be told it was safe to head home, great, off home again it is then.  We were home for all of 30 mins when the next alert came through, I was expecting it to be a down grade as we were just sent home, but no, it was an up grade, and it said the words I just didn't want to see….'too late to leave, shelter indoors'.  Nooooooo this wasn't part of our fire plan at all. Then the power went out.

I spent the next few hours sitting at my front door watching helicopters water bomb parallel to our house only about 4 kilometres away.  I sat there in disbelieve that we were stuck in the town while there was an out of control fire being water bombed just over there.  We got through the night with little sleep, knowing we were entering another full on day, at least this time, we would not be heading out and about.  The day here was all about helicopters, big helicopters flying directly over our backyard and landing on the little athes oval to refuel, I had never seen beasts so big so close.  This was actually really good for Lala who was starting to get quite scared of the fires, she was hearing too much of our talking and was feeling too much of our stress, so it was really great for her to be able to wave to the pilots and yell out thank-you.  By afternoon our dot of a town had become the major staging area for the surrounding fires, hundreds of firefighters, not just from our local CFA's but from all over Victoria, from NSW and SA, more fire trucks than I could count and about 15 helicopters had all arrived to help fight.  Evening come and we all headed off to a community meeting to keep everyone informed about what was happening, and what to expect in the coming days.  Now we all know that at most of these things there is alway one village idiot, you know that one person that comes to the meeting all ready revved up and ready to yell and whinge about things.  Well the one village idiot choose to start ranting and yelling about the red cross, the one organisation that me and my family have strong ties with, I am a red cross member in the fundraising side of things as is my mum, but mum is also in the emergency service side of things.  Luckily for this ignorant out of towner (we know he was from the next town over, because he yelled it out a few times, not to sure why) he was only standing about a meter in front of me, so I got to put him in his place in front of a hell of a lot of people, saving him from yelling out more incorrect information, and making even more of a fool of himself, he spent the rest of the meeting with his head down. I guess on top of my quick tongue and he realised yelling at a concerned mother holding her one year wasn't a good look.

Finally yesterday late afternoon, we were told that the fires nearby had been contained and we were no longer under threat, hallelujah!!! So today although we are still living in a smoke haze we have been able to relax for the first time in 6 days, I actually got sleep last night too.

I started this post still in the mist of it all, and it has taken me a few days to get it all out.  What an emotional, and exhausting week we have had, as have many of the families in this affected area. I don't know what we would do with the amazing CFA, they are truly angels, selfless angels! THANKYOU, you guys have saved so many houses, towns, animals and most importantly lives over this past week.

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