Rev Moira Dodsworth, minister at Coolum Beach Uniting Church describes the aftermath of the recent fires on the Sunshine Coast.
It is always a frightening experience to be in or near an out of control fire. In the afternoon of 9 September, many of us who live in the area of Coolum Beach and Peregian travelled home—saw the smoke—then the flames and wondered where the fire was. Little did we realise how close it was to home.
When the radio indicated the whole area was being evacuated, some took different routes, desperately trying to get home to pets and to ensure the safety of other family members.
It was wonderful how neighbours and friends supported each other, making sure everyone was safe, getting police permission to rescue pets and check on those who were elderly or less mobile.
I wonder if the experience of being evacuated and spending time in a centre, with friends or even a stranger’s home was easier than for those who remained in Peregian Springs and nearby, once the immediate danger was passed. Those who left were able to talk through the experience, share the emotion and have the support of caring people. For Peregian Springs residents with Telstra as their provider, the internet went down on Monday night as did the mobile tower. I could only get a weak signal on my mobile, in the backyard, and don’t own a radio, I relied on text messages from friends for news until I worked out how to connect my TV to the aerial.
I felt very isolated and know I was not the only one. I live alone and although, the neighbours and I had all agreed that we would tell each other if we decided to evacuate, I felt very alone and, to be quite honest, scared.
I have experienced cyclones and floods but this was different—even my dogs and cat were unsettled and paced the house. Faith and even the absolute surety that God is with you, can seem unreal in a catastrophic fire event. I am very thankful for those who prayed with and for me so that I could care for others, keep going and find some peace in a frantic few days.
Rev Moira Dodsworth.
Visit the Queensland Synod website for information on how you can support the disaster relief appeal.