Restoring order out of chaos

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Restoring order out of chaos

OCTOBER 2016 | Joanne Eisemann

WHAT WOULD normally be a 15 minute drive from Deloraine now takes almost an hour. Dynans Bridge at Weegena was washed away by the June floods and is not expected to be repaired until December.

Along the way we see hundreds of acres of once beautiful pasture covered in rock, gravel and wood debris.

The Bridle Track road is washed out in many places making travel fairly slow.

Eventually we arrive at Grant Ellis’s property at Weegena, right beside the washed out bridge.

“This is the worst I’ve seen,” says BlazeAid Tasmanian Flood Coordinator Barry Thompson, looking across the amount of debris washed up on the once lush pastureland. “It looks like a logging coupe.”

Barry also manages the Mole Creek BlazeAid camp and he has brought a crew of volunteers to assist Grant in re-establishing a boundary fence.

“This would not have got done until after we’ve got a new bridge,’’ comments Grant.

Grant lost 21 head of cattle and his stockyards during the floods, but finds the pilfering that has been happening since even more devastating.

“The flood happened, we can’t change that, but the fact that people come and steal your things – that just gets brutal.”

“I’ve got people coming in, with 4 wheel drives, going right up through the property and just taking whatever they want.”

Barry, having experienced disaster situations in many areas of Australia says this behaviour is not uncommon. BlazeAid’s focus of repairing and putting up boundary fences serves to minimise theft as well as keeping stock in.

The Mole Creek crew have had 38 volunteers since they set up on 14th July, most of them are Tasmanians bu ta few have also come from the mainland.

Some travel daily from Launceston. “Jack from Launceston has been with us since Day One,” comments Barry, “and Dave, he’s come all the way from Hobart.”

Barry hails from Mt Gambier in South Australia but hasn’t seen much of home recently having been there only four weeks since April of last year.

“I was in Western Queensland doing drought relief and this happened.”

BlazeAid volunteers working on the Tasmanian flood relief have been working from 4 camps: Ulverstone, Ouse, Port Sorrell and Mole Creek.

The Mole Creek crew have put up 20km of new fencing and repaired 15km.

They’ve worked on farms at Caveside, Liena, Weegena and Mole Creek.

“Property owners provide the materials and we provide the grunt,” says Barry.

BlazeAid also provide tools. “I placed an order for six brand new trailers at Sunrise Trailers in Deloraine that will stay here in Tasmania for next time” explains Barry. Each trailer holds $8,000 worth of gear.

Money to fund the operation comes from local fundraisers and donations from individuals and groups.

The Meander Valley Choir performed at a fundraiser in Westbury and the Deloraine Lions Club presented Barry with a cheque for $10,500; $500 of which came from Dungog in NSW where BlazeAid worked last year.

Anyone wishing to donate time or money can do so via www.blazeaid.com.

 Mike Moores