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Community Spirit warmer than the fires – One year on

Today marks the one year anniversary of the 2019 Crestwood fires that impacted our town, Lake Cathie.

Lately I have heard the anniversary bought up in conversation. Some people have felt a sense of anxiety, some are reflecting on the hard work, and others, how proud they are of the community spirit.
Chris Brown, Captain of Lake Cathie Rural Fire Brigade shared his reflection with us yesterday as the anniversary approached.
“A year ago, the night started out as a very uneventful patrol of Pozieres retirement village.  Our crew spent the night guarding the new buildings and a massive gas cylinder that backed onto the bushland.
We were totally oblivious to the Crestwood Fire that was taking a run down the Cathie Straight behind our backs.  As we left, just after midnight, we saw the huge glow and embers over the trees to the West. For the first time in my 17 years of firefighting I experienced true fear. I could see, in my mind, our beautiful village of Lake Cathie burning to the ground.  The glowing embers above the trees were racing south at around 40-50 k’s an hour, parallel to our truck.  I thought the crew were on our way home to bed for the night. How wrong I was.
These weeks would unite our Brigade, and community together like never before. Our village didn’t burn to the ground through the amazing work of the RFS and other emergency fire services.  It made the Lake Cathie Rural Fire Brigade, the strongest it has ever been, and continues to be today.  The rest of Summer kept us on our toes every day.
To my crew members who stood up and were part of the fight or the support during this time, I salute you!
Thanks to the firefighters who left their families to come to Lake Cathie and support us.  We are forever grateful and hope you return for a holiday some day.
A big thanks to the local businesses who gave endless support.
Our community, thank you!  Your kindness, donations and support will assist in holding together our little fire shed long after the Summer of 2019″.
Kate McFarlane recently facilitated a Community Emergency readiness event at Lake Cathie Bowling Club. This event was funded by Resilience NSW & hosted by Port Macquarie Hastings Council.  Local residents heard from local Rural Fire Service, SES and Red Cross representatives about preparation for scenarios such as fire, flood, heatwave and tsunami.  The night followed with residents being part of the conversation about future planning for other possible emergencies our town may face.  Discussions around resources, community involvement, current services and future possibilities were all bought together.  The evening collated many ideas and Council will consolidate the information and formalising what the action plans will look like for Lake Cathie.
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