Jo Baker and her children Madalyn and Jack at the Blaze Aid camp in Nymboida.
Jo Baker and her children Madalyn and Jack at the Blaze Aid camp in Nymboida.

Blaze Aid family doing the hard yards

WHEN the Jo Baker's family set out on their trip around Australia, it's fair to say Nymboida wasn't on the radar.

After happening upon a Blaze Aid camp in Ebor, the family saw how the organisation was helping to repair damaged fencing in the aftermath of bushfires and decided to help out at a camp more suitable for their two children.

Three weeks later, the family are practically part of the Nymboida Blaze Aid camp furniture.

"We weren't supposed to stay so long, we were just going to do a week or so," Ms Baker said.

"But they need a lot of help. It is off the beaten track so people just don't drive past and see it."

Seeing the devastation first hand has been an eye-opening experience for Ms Baker who said it was a primary reason the family had stayed so long.

"You see it on the news and you feel it but until you are here, you don't realise the amount of trauma people go through," she said.

"To me, that has been really hard - people have so many different experiences, they haven't got anywhere to go, no one to talk to and they have lost all their possessions."

Even seven-year-old Madalyn was getting into the Blaze Aid spirit after a conversation with a local bushfire victim whose chicken situation was getting out of hand.

Busy trying to rebuild his life, the resident hadn't had time to pick up all the eggs his chickens were laying.

"My daughter said 'we will come up and collect your eggs'," Ms Baker said.

"Then they will go up every couple of days and collect the fresh eggs to give back to the community. That is her way of helping."

 

Blaze Aid Nymboida coordinator Traci Summers.
Blaze Aid Nymboida coordinator Traci Summers.

Formed 11 weeks ago, volunteers at the Nymboida Blaze Aid camp has so far cleared 17km of land and rebuilt 20km of fencing across 29 properties.

But with so many outbuildings destroyed by fire, BA co-ordinator Traci Summers said the lack of machinery in the area was posing problems.

And with as many as 65 properties left to go, Ms Summers is putting the call out to locals across the region to donate time or machinery.

"It makes it really hard on the volunteers having to dig holes by hand, and there is some pretty hard ground around this country."

"We love getting the locals involved. We always need help as there is so much to do."

Ms Summers' first Blaze Aid camp was last February after the devastating floods in North Queensland.

However, she said she was overwhelmed when she first set foot in Nymboida.

"The day I drove in here I will never forget, it was like a wasteland," she said.

"The word death just comes to mind. There wasn't a blade of green grass."

Fortunately, Ms Summers was surrounded by "great" volunteers who had made the undertaking so much easier.

She also wanted to thank Woolgoolga and Orara Valley Lions Club, Country Women's Association, Coutts Tavern and Clarence Valley Council for the support they had given.

And the support was still coming as Barry and Helen Hall from Harwood donated a trailer full of fencing supplies, boots and other equipment from the Harwood Youth Club, Harwood Cricket Club, Harwood Hotel Social Club and Harwood Rural Suppliers.

To help Blaze Aid Nymboida, contact Traci Summers on 0432 602 226.



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