Know you are at risk : Rachael, Adelaide Hills property owner conversation


WOMAN: Well, it was a…
it was a very long night.
I wasn’t really ready for how long
I would have to stay awake.
It sounds like a silly thing
but it’s just something that
I haven’t thought of before,
having to be awake for…for
that number of hours at a stretch.
I’d gone through the various steps
on our…on our fire plan
and felt like I was…
I was quite organised
but the number of things
that didn’t go according to plan
really surprised me.
Stupidly, I hadn’t recharged
my phone the previous night.
I had to rely on our
battery-powered radio for updates
and I’m so glad
that we had that radio
because otherwise I would’ve felt
completely isolated.
I started to feel
the most vulnerable
once my phone battery had died
and my laptop battery had died.
The lack of ability to communicate
made me feel very isolated
and just heightened
that level of tension.
That was when
I really started to worry
and to have start actually
considering changing…
..changing our bushfire plan.
When I was up on the hill
looking at the fire
on the far side of the ridge,
ash was falling from the sky
like snow
and…and it was really loud
as well.
It sounded very military,
the constant aircraft sound.
Time passes really slowly.
I’d known for a very long time
that if…if we were
threatened by fire
that I would be here
pretty much on my own,
that Andrew would be off on the…
with the local fire brigade.
I’m not the world’s
most technical person
so it was really important for me
each year
to run through the drill,
to make sure that I was familiar
and comfortable
with filling the pumps up
with petrol,
starting them, priming them,
making sure that the sprinklers
were all functional
and at the start
of each fire season,
it had become
a bit of a drill for us.
The CFS does a…does a brilliant
job but you can’t rely on them.
It’s our responsibility
to make sure
that our property
is well prepared.
We have basically
gone back to the drawing board.
Next time, I will make
the decision to leave earlier.
Now that I’ve experienced
the situation,
I know that I’m not
as psychologically prepared
as I’d previously anticipated
I would be.
I learnt that night
that fire is unpredictable.
You need a plan
but you also need to be flexible
and be ready to change
at a moment’s notice.

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