12 January, 2020

Wingello Fire Recovery - It's more than physical

Everyone in Wingello has been affected by the fires that swept through on Saturday, 4 January 2020 and the tense standoff with the fires on Friday/Saturday 10/11 January.

Our Firies are still processing the intense firefights they fought in Balmoral and Buxton and then had to fight for the life of Wingello when we were struck with an almost instant firefront right at the edge of the village. In the following week we have had spot fires flaring up all over the place and been threatened by fires behind us and in neighbouring Penrose and Tallong. One can just imagine the stress this places on them facing life and death struggles in such a short time.

Then there are the Firies' families, knowing their loved one is putting himself or herself in danger to protect other people's lives, homes and property and then suddenly having to defend their own home. All with the possibility they may be injured or killed in the line of self selected duty.
The villagers who are only experienced with fire in varying degrees from none to theoretical and some with more, are all having to cope with the sudden attack on their homes. Whether they stood and defended their homes or left with the stress of wondering if their house would be standing when they returned, they all have varying degrees of unprocessed events to sort through.
Over the coming weeks we will experience a time of coming to terms with what we have gone through combined with the reminder that it is not over as the fires remain burning on our doorstep. We know they are being fought back while the weather is favourable, but it is still a tough time considering the underlying fuel loads and drought conditions.

As a community this means we need to share our experiences in person, shed tears almost at random as thoughts strike us of what happened and what could have happened. In our discussions, tears come to eyes as we see so much help being provided for little old Wingello from complete strangers. Sometimes the shock of a helping hands brings back memories and fears. The helping hand then helps more.
With all this stress and fears, often buried under very brave exteriors and smiles of relief, we are all prone to occasional flare ups of anger. In more reasonable times, the anger would be avoided because we realise we have known the person we are angry with for many years and that deserves a bit of understanding. When you have a relationship with someone for a long time, you are often able to realise that what seems to be a bad action may not have the reasons you instantly assume. On a normal day, the reaction would be a phonecall or word asking what they are doing. In these stressful time, the instant anger reaction can cause a cascade of returning emotions. Suddenly everyone is yelling over some thing which could have been solved more amicably.

I am asking everyone in Wingello to recognise the stresses that everyone is under at the moment and in coming weeks and months. If you feel the rise of an outburst or anger, take a deep breath. Consider the stress on the person you may be angry with and the stress you are under which tends to magnify issues.
Take the time to chat about what happened with fellow villagers who have shared our common battle. This can be over a coffee or a chance encounter in the park or while shopping. Pause and have a chat. It helps both parties process the losses, fears of potential loss and appreciate the fact that you and everyone else in Wingello is alive and the majority of the homes in the village remain standing.
Now is the time for us to come together, share our stories and provide understanding.

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