“I haven’t seen anyone who has seen her and hasn’t had a smile on their face.”
Terry is from Deepwater, one of the worst affected areas of the unrelenting fires. He fled his home of more than 20 years with his son, dog, cat and baby swamp wallaby to the Miriam Vale Evacuation Centre.
“Wednesday morning, they forecast a fire storm, and a westerly wind change which would have brought the fire directly to my house. I wasn’t prepared to risk the life of my 22-year-old son, so we decided to leave,” Terry says.
Terry and his son had been preparing for the fires, slashing, cutting grass, pumps ready, gutters filled with water. As the fire came closer to their property, their concern was for the animals.
“I wasn’t prepared to leave because I have a lot of animals there, four horses, 10 goats, two alpacas and a lot of chickens, as well as a couple of grey kangaroo and baby here.”
When conditions worsened, and predictions of a ‘catastrophic’ fire warning level, Terry and his son had no choice but to flee.
While safe at the evacuation centre, Terry, a wildlife warrior can’t stop thinking about his animals.
“What’s stressful for me is not knowing if I can go home, to feed my animals. I want to get back to make sure they have their food and water and whatever else they need. I don’t know if I have horses anymore, that’s worrying, but I have to assume they are still there.”
While he anxiously waits, Terry’s grateful for the support at the centre.
“Talking to people in the various organisations, including Red Cross, it keeps me feeling positive all the time. That’s the important thing for everyone in the centre. To stay positive.”
Red Cross has a team of volunteers working around the clock providing support to residents at the evac centre, and, working in partnership with multiple agencies. Volunteers have been stationed at the centre and visiting neighbouring communities like Agnes Waters and Mt Larcom.
Volunteers are a listening ear for residents in a state of shock. They don’t know if their animals are still alive, or houses are still there.
It’s a time when people affected also turn to each other for support.
“I find myself trying to talk up the morale of people, I try to be positive, I’m not going to worry until I get back there and see for myself,” Terry says.
That’s where baby has been a great benefit to everyone at the centre, particularly the children.
“Mum and dad are worried and they can see the worry. The children get upset, so for me it’s a great opportunity to introduce them to baby and they love her.”
Once Terry is able to return to his property, he’s looking forward to seeing his animals and releasing baby into the bush.