Bushfire-ravaged south-east Queensland community struggling

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote:

A month after a massive Gold Coast bushfire destroyed 11 houses, eight of them on her street, Binna Burra resident Sharon Innis is struggling.

The 43-year-old cleaner was forced to flee her home of 18 years with just two minute’s notice when the fire raced out of control from Lamington National Park into the tiny hilltop hamlet.

Bushfire-ravaged south-east Queensland community struggling - The Reports

Binna Burra resident Sharon Innis was forced to flee her home during last month’s fire.Credit:Aaron Bunch/AAP

“I didn’t even have shoes on my feet,” she said on Tuesday.

Ms Innis’ timber house miraculously survived the blaze, but the extreme heat buckled floors and knocked out the tank-fed plumbing system.

“It’s been sponge baths and bottled water since we were allowed back in,” she said with a laugh.

She’s now facing a mammoth and costly task to make her home liveable, including lopping many of the now unstable trees surrounding her home in a koala corridor.

Bushfire-ravaged south-east Queensland community struggling - The Reports

The view from Binna Burra resident Sharon Innis’ street across the Lamington National Park, where smoke can still been seen rising one month after a bushfire swept through Gold Coast hinterland park.Credit:Aaron Bunch/AAP

It’s a job made even tougher after Ms Innis learned St George Bank had cancelled her home insurance two months before the fires after payments were missed without her knowing.

“Others have it much worse. Look at my neighbours who lost everything; look at the farmers in drought,” she said as tears welled in her eyes.

Across the creek, Sophie Bryden, 38, is counting her lucky stars after the blaze was stopped about 100 metres from the home she shares with her seven-year-old son.

Bushfire-ravaged south-east Queensland community struggling - The Reports

Binna Burra resident Sophie Bryden.Credit:Aaron Bunch/AAP

She’s become an informal community organiser, helping to connect fire-affected residents with badly-needed assistance as they try to get on with life in the lunar-like landscape.

“Many of these families were doing it tough before the fire,” she says.

“Now they’re lumbered with the added expense of rebuilding fences, felling burned trees and cleaning rooves of potentially toxic ash so they can collect water in their tanks again.”

Ms Bryden praised the local community for its efforts to help, but was scathing of state and federal authorities, citing as a joke a $180 one-off payment for people, like herself, who were evacuated from their homes for days.

“The fire trucks have gone, the media outlets have left and the many support services have all packed up, but the people are still struggling,” she said.

Bushfire-ravaged south-east Queensland community struggling - The Reports

A destroyed home is seen one month after a bushfire swept through the region.Credit:Aaron Bunch/AAP

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen says many residents face a tough road to full recovery.

Not only is there a lot of work to do which will require expert help, such as decontaminating rooves so they can again be used to collect drinking water.

But the region remains bone-dry with many hot days ahead.

“It’s very hard to comprehend what to do next when you can’t see a clear path,” he said

The 18-day fire event, which began on September 6, burned through about 6000 hectares in the Gold Coast hinterland.

AAP

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