2009 narbethong fire supply run

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Narbethong Supply Run

Here is the recollections of one of the organisers of the supply run - luvthabumps.

First of all I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who donated goods and money, or contributed in any way with offers of help and support towards this supply trip.

Secondly a huge thanks to Skimax for getting on the phone early in the piece and kicking some butt to get some supplies down to Narby and helping me with liaison about who to speak to in Alex about getting through. Fortunately the road opened to Narby the day before we headed up, but I'm sure if it hadn't Skimax would have managed to procure a road pass somehow or another.

Bogong and I headed off around 8.00. By the time we hit the outskirts of Yarra Glen, evidence of the damage was all around. Yering Station / Chateau Yering had burnt paddocks right to the boundary. Between Dixons Creek and the Kinglake turnoff you could really see how bad the devastation was. I commented to Bogong that I'd never noticed the surrounding hills and valleys as the vegetation is so thick normally on the climb up to the Kinglake turnoff but now all the undergrowth is completely gone

Arrived at Alex and picked up a box of cleanup kits to take down. The relief centres were all well manned, but not many people around at all. This was the same at Buxton, where we dropped in to see if they had any spades / shovels we could take down. They didn't even have any cleanup kits so we left half a box with them and told them to contact Alex where we knew there another box sitting in the logistics centre waiting to be taken.

We arrived at Narby around midday after a bit of stuffing around at the cop shop in Alex, making sure the road was open, etc. Teckel was very glad to see us, especially Bogong and showed me around the place. We unloaded most of the electronic goods for her to distribute personally and then headed down to the pub to drop of the toiletries, chockies, etc all of which was very well received.

A team of chefs had arrived from one of the oil rigs to help with all the cooking and locals and vollys wandered in and out for a free feed . All the food , as I understand it, has been donated as well. The relief centre there is very well stocked now with household items, food, etc and a couple of truckloads of garden tools were due to arrive today and they have some great people in there getting everyone organised. They've certainly set about trying to get on with things as quickly as they can and it was great to see the insurance assessors are already in town , processing claims as quickly as they can. Unfortunately the two main timber mills in the town are completely gone, as is the other ski hire next door to Teckel's place.

The resilience of these people is great. You'd never imagine what Teckel has been through, seeing her helping others out, on the phone organising things, she was printing info sheets for one of the enviro guys to let everyone know about putting out sugared water mix for the bees, who would otherwise die and then there would be none around to pollinate the flowers as they grow back! Who would think of these things at a time like this - not this townie!

Anyway, my take is that at the moment people need a little bit of space and time, to let the assessors do their job, sift through their remains for memories, let the demo crews do their job and then probably then we could get in and help out with further cleanup and support the town by having a big feed at the pub. They're already planning for the winter and expect some skiing to be done at Lake Mountain and Teckel will be BUSY if that happens as she is the only ski hire within cooee of LM.

I've said to Tecks there's a bunch of us ready to go and help out with cleanup wherever we can and she should call on us as soon as she sees a need. The only thing that has me a bit worried is that Teckel suggested Fangin' should be the foreman

Anyway, as I said everyone up there was soooo appreciative of the donations, gifts and well wishes that you all sent up, so thank you all again.

Here is a preliminary list of requests for Narbethong that was phoned through to me as soon as telephones were reconnected. At the time a 'cool blaze' was still burning through the undergrowth on the Black Spur and people were allowed to leave Narby on the Alexandra Road, but even residents were not allowed to return. The community responded by pooling all the food that was in houses that had survived the fire and the chef at the pub used it to cook for all Narbethong residents. After a while (five days from memory), the authorities relented and allowed people heading out to return with food and other basic supplies.

Not long afterwards, the road to Narbethong from Alexandra was reopened to outsiders (the Marysville road was still closed) and we went in with things locals had requested the next day. Luvthabumps tells the story of our supply run above.

This first list of requests conveys the immediate thoughts and needs of those that survived, rather than any thoughts about their future. The stuff we took up a few days later was slightly different.

On the phone, 'Teckel' prefaced this list of requests by saying she was feeling a bit self concious about taking too much, so we should keep the amounts modest and to avoid sending premium things, just basics. The list is surprising, it includes a lot of unexpected things. My comments are in italics.

  • 2 x small generators on loan for family houses.
  • 12 x lip gloss. Many survivors have painfully cracked lips.
  • 12 x hand cream.
  • 12 x duffle bags, etc. to collect possessions from burnt properties. People are tired of walking around with plastic shopping bags.
  • 12 x wallets.
  • Assorted phone chargers. When people left their properties to seek refuge in places like the basement of Teckel's shop, they had their phones in their pockets, but when their houses burnt, the chargers were too. So there were a lot of people unable to charge their phones, even though the Black Spur Inn had a generator.
  • Bulk cheap chocolate
  • Lap top computers, on loan.
  • Televisions, on loan. This was at the time when most people were replacing their CRT TV's with flat screens, so quite a few TV's were donated, I don't think anyone asked for them back.
  • DVD player
  • 2 or 3 x Game Boys
  • Toys

After the authorities finally allowed a relief convoy in, Teckel gave me one last message before our supply run: 'No more shampoo or tooth paste please. Everyone's keen to get to the stage of rebuilding their lives, having the power reconnected will help.'