By Jo Hoffman
I visited one lady whose property was in the path of the December bushfires in the Yanchep/Two Rocks/ Gin Gin area. She lives on 5 acres of land in the suburb of Breakwater; she lost 22 trees and fencing, and her driveway was ripped up when trees were felled in the clean up in the aftermath of the fire.
She was lucky her home was left intact, due to the earth having been cleared and compacted around the house in readiness for a proposed verandah. The house is relatively new, so there was no debris in gutters or the like that would attract the flames. However, not everyone was spared. The bushfire followed a linear path pushing through natural vegetation throughout that area, and any homes in its way were affected.
The residents kept in touch through Facebook, with those remaining keeping others up to date on progress and developments as the fire devoured everything in its path. There was an evacuation centre set up in the Quinns Community Centre where people slept until they could return to their homes. However, their situation was pretty grim as they had no clothes to change into, little food unless they had money for purchases, no showers for personal hygiene, no privacy, and all they could do was wait. It was surreal, emotional, traumatic. Uncertainty produced anxiety, and many people were devastated and broke down. It was hard to keep it together. Even this interview produced a reaction, with tears close to the surface.
Western Power was very good to the residents and the firefighters were really considerate and helpful, but insurance companies were a problem. Residents were evacuated on the 11th December, and were allowed to return on Friday the 20th December, just in time for Christmas.
The residents are getting together a petition for the regeneration of the estate which will be presented to the Wanneroo Shire Council, and are putting together a fire mitigation plan.
As for the environment, life is returning to the blackened landscape, with sprigs of emerald green leaves peeking out from onyx black tree trunks, sapphire green growth a profusion on grass trees, and turquoise green tufts sprouting from dirty ash gray earth.
Even though we are entering into autumn, the feeling in Breakwater is more in keeping with spring, in hope and rebirth.
We wish our neighbours well.