Residents affected by the 2019 Noosa bushfires have recounted their experiences in a new short film documenting the impact of the disaster, three years later.
The film features interviews with Holly Kemp and Pam Murphy who lost their homes in the fires.
“When you move to the bush, you always have in mind that it could happen, but you never thought you would lose all of a sudden,” recalls Holly, a resident of Cooroibah.
Pam Murphy fled the Peregian Beach blaze as embers rained down on the coastal town, setting her more than 30-year-old home ablaze.
“All my charts went up. All the records from my husband’s jazz bands, my antiques – they all went away,” she says.
The Council engaged local filmmakers, Pluggas, to produce the 15-minute film to document the fires and their impact on our community, and to promote the importance of disaster preparedness.
“The past three years have reminded us of what a resilient and caring community we are, but it is essential that we stop and reflect on how quickly and furiously the fires have spread and reflect on the steps we should take to ensure that we are prepared in the event of a disaster,” said Mayor Clare Stewart.
More than 8,000 residents were evacuated in several suburbs and thousands of hectares burned in a series of fires in 2019, which began with the first Peregian Beach fires on September 9, followed by the Cooroibah and Noosa fires. North Shore.
“Fortunately, no lives were lost. But the result could have been much worse. If you haven’t made a bushfire survival plan, we hope this film inspires you to do so,” the mayor said.
The film, which will feature in Get Ready Month campaigns and other local disaster preparedness education efforts, chronicles the 2019 event from the perspective of residents, emergency services personnel and the Council disaster recovery team, led by Director of Community Services, Kerri Contini.
“We hear from the first responders whose skill and dedication in the face of incredibly harsh conditions averted loss of life and massive damage,” she says.
“Then there are those who went straight to work, once the fires were out, to help our devastated wildlife.”
Meghan Halverson, founder of Queensland Koala Crusaders, recalls in the film the grim scene she and her fellow wildlife rescuers faced in the weeks following the fires.
“We were among the first people to do the black marches after the fires as soon as it was safe enough to do so. I guess black walks represent hope where you try to find an animal, animals, that can be helped,” she says.
“What happens to a koala if it’s in a fire, if it doesn’t go down, it goes up. And usually, in the past, if there were fires, they would go up high into the canopy and it would burn around them, and then they would come back down after the fire. But with a fire this hot and high, that’s where they had no chance.
Mayor Stewart said council has invested significantly over the past three years in measures to prevent a repeat of the 2019 fires.
“We have increased budget funding for bushfire resilience measures such as more controlled burns, better trail maintenance and we have also appointed an internal fire officer to help keep our community safe,” said said the mayor.
This film was made with the assistance of a grant from the Australian Government through the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.
Check the Council’s Heritage Noosa website (heritage.noosa.qld.gov.au) and Facebook page (facebook.com/noosacouncil) from September 9 to watch the documentary.