OUR SAY: A day impossible to forget
STEPPING out of the Grafton District Services Club at 4pm on Friday, November 8, 2019 was like stepping into a sepia-toned postcard of the Jacaranda Festival circa the 1950s. The orange hues hitting the lens of my eyes were so unfamiliar it felt like I had stepped out of reality.
Wearing my Clarence Valley Sports Awards hat for a planning meeting prior to the annual presentation dinner at the venue the following night, and not privy to the latest dire warnings pinging away in the newsroom, I was yet to fully appreciate the severe weight of devastation that gloomy glow carried just beyond the horizon to the southwest.
NYMBOIDA FIRE COVERAGE:
- DISASTER STRIKES: Bush fire rips through Nymboida
- Fireys forced to act as paramedics in 'danger zone'
- HELL ON EARTH: 'It was like the apocalypse'
- PHOTOS: First look inside Nymboida fire impact zone
Even the following morning, after a late night as the only mainstream media service that was dedicated to the latest live updates reporting on the status of the Nymboida fire while 16 other catastrophic emergencies raged throughout the state, the situation remained unclear.
With so little communication and most people evacuated out of the war zone, there was little reliable information available and only second hand anecdotal observations at best.
Our first published count was six dwellings lost, including possibly the Nymboida Canoe Centre - which turned out not to be the case and became the community lifeblood's saviour.
Eventually, once authorities could come into the isolated, under-developed, largely off the grid paradise-turned-living hell to take an accurate account of the carnage, a figure of 94 homes was settled upon, with another 154 outbuildings reduced to rubble.
Another figure also emerged - zero deaths.
"Nothing short of a miracle," said Clarence Valley RFS Superintendent Stuart Watts.