Almost a year to the day since BlazeAid began helping those affected by the Keilira bushfire it is back in the South East for another fire recovery effort.
BlazeAid has set up camp at Yakka Park in Lucindale with Friday, January 29, their first official day lending a hand to farmers hit hard by the Blackford blaze earlier this month.
Camp coordinator Mary Howarth, who also led BlazeAid's efforts at Keilira last year, is expecting an army of volunteers to converge on Lucindale.
She has already made contact with a few fire-affected farmers keen to receive their help.
The first priority of the volunteers will be reinstating fences on main roads and boundary fences followed by internal fencing.
Ms Howarth says they can pull down and put up new fences themselves or can work with fencing contractors and have their volunteers attach the droppers on fences and staple wires into posts, depending on each farmer's preferences.
Over four months in 2020 at Keilira nearly 300 volunteers rebuilt 236 kilometres of fencing for 14 properties, but Ms Howarth estimates the Lucindale project could be even bigger, in the order of 400km.
"It doesn't matter how long it takes, we will stay as long as the farmers need us," she said.
She said "age was no barrier" to helping with BlazeAid and volunteers could come for one day or stay for weeks depending on how much time they had to give.
They could also work in the paddock or even help cooking and cleaning with volunteers supplied with all their meals.
"We'd really like to put the call out there for anyone that could come with their tractor so we can pull the old posts out at the same time as we put the new posts in behind like we did at Keilira," she said.
"We love to see the locals too and they always love being able to help their local community."
Since first volunteering in 2011 in the aftermath of the Charlton flood in Vic, Ms Howarth has been all over Australia helping farmers bounce back from fires, floods and cyclones.
She says it is heartwarming to see the big difference BlazeAid's assistance makes to affected producers, helping take a weight off the shoulders.
"Not just me but all the volunteers are good people and just want to help," she said.
"It doesn't matter what you do- a pat on the back or a thank you is all you need."
Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery says BlazeAid will be an important part of the Blackford fire recovery.
"They will play a really important role both physically putting fences back up so farmers can bring their stock home when the grass grows back but also assisting peoples' mental well being," she said.
In the fortnight since the fire Mrs Vickery said it had been wonderful to see the resilience of the Avenue and Lucindale communities and how they had banded together to support each other.
"Their get up and go attitude is to be commended and even though they have lost stock and sheds and fences they are saying we have to get out there and clean it up and move forward," she said.
She said the Naracorte Lucindale Council which were the lead agency in the recovery were liasing closely with Kingston District Council to draw on their experiences from the Keilira bushfire.
"We are taking advice from Kingston District Council as to the timing of things but we are looking at having a community meeting in early February to discuss the next stage," Mrs Vickery said.
- To register for BlazeAid Lucindale camp contact Mary Howarth 0429 367 538 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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