The fundraiser for my Dad and others in Rappville has been verified by GoFundMe*. Everything over $15,000 will be shared with others who have lost their homes in these horrible fires, and with the NSW Rural Fire Service.
On Tuesday, 8 October, my father and his partner, Cassie, lost their entire belongings in an intense bushfire in the northern NSW village of Rappville.
They moved there from Canberra after the terror of the 2003 bushfires that destroyed over 400 homes in the ACT. Their own home at that time was safe, but they lived right on the edge of the fire zone and were very lucky to not lose their home to that fire.
My father rang me at 3pm on Tuesday and told me they were worried about the fire and had been told that it was too late to leave and they had to find shelter. The firess had been burning for weeks in that region but had suddenly run out of control, in spite of the incredible efforts of hundreds of NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers.
Dad said they were going to shelter in his large steel shed. I asked him if he could maybe go over the road to the school as I felt it would be safer, but he said, “No, the shed is steel – it won’t burn, that’s where we’re going.” I asked him to keep me updated.
At 4pm, the NSW RFS tweeted another warning:
I tried to get this information to my Dad but by this time, communication had been cut. So, I replied to the NSW RFS …
The RFS staffer on duty – Anthony – then sent me a message asking for info …
And as I understand it, Anthony then contacted their volunteers in Rappville, gave them my father’s location – and they went and got my father and Cassie out of the shed. Rob Rogers is the Deputy Commissioner of the NSW RFS and a man I’ve interviewed many times during my radio career during disasters just like this one.
The NSW RFS delivered Dad and Cass safely to the school and he was able to call me to tell me that they were safe, but that everything had been lost – the house, the car, their photos, even his walking stick (which he hates having to admit to needing).
I’m so lucky, we still have the clothes we have on. But they guy next to me – he’s only wearing shorts and thongs!My dad.
When the fires hit, there was no way I’d have been able to get there – it’s at least a seven-hour drive from where I live. So I figured that the most important thing I could do was bring attention to their plight. So with the help of many, many media friends and colleagues from all over NSW, I got busy and I set up a fundraiser:
In answer to a few questions:
Why didn’t your Dad call 000?
Because the phones were no longer working.
Why are you asking for money?
Because my father has lost absolutely everything other than the clothes he and his partner had on. Every. Single. Thing. And I feel awful about asking for help but I can’t do it alone.
Is this legit?
Yes. My fundraising effort has been verified by GoFundMe and supported by Twitter Australia.
What are you doing with the money?
The first $15,000 will go directly to my father. Everything over that amount will be shared with others who have lost their homes in this fire, and with the NSW RFS. To this end I have also been in touch with the Mayor of Clarence Valley Council seeking their advice on how and who should best help with this.
Thank you to the following who are only a small number of the people who have reached out to help. If I have missed you, I’m sure you understand.
The NSW Rural Fire Service
403 420 people who have donated to the fund so far – I will try to thank each of you personally … most of you I don’t know, but I’m so grateful to you.
ABC Television and Radio
Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar – ABC News Breakfast
St George Bank – Casino
Ben Fordham @ 2GB
Natalie Barr and Sunrise
Prostex Dental Lab in Sydney
ThreadTogether who are working to get new clothes to those who’ve lost everything
Daily Mail UK
My colleagues at Squiz who don’t know quite when they’ll see me again.
Twitter Australia for supporting me.
Robert Mustow – Richmond Valley Mayor
The Insurance Council of Australia (with important information here …)
The person who put $1000 directly into Dad’s bank account.