Residents applaud the efforts of volunteers who fought the recent fire that threatened Angourie and Wooloweyah. Members from the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Wooloweyah brigade are pictured. Image: Contributed

After the fires: communities respond with dollars

Geoff Helisma|

Sometimes, after the fact, disasters arouse generosity and caring in people who want to help ease the suffering, or thank the people who risked their lives mitigating the disaster.

Such is the case with the residents of Angourie and Wooloweyah, whose homes were recently threatened by bushfires.

The Angourie Residents and Ratepayers Association donated $16,000 to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Wooloweyah residents fundraised about $1,200.

Volunteer Nick Clark, who is the Clarence Valley’s RFS group officer, said he is “gobsmacked by the public’s generosity”.

“We aren’t asking for money; people are just coming to us with donations,” he said.

He said the RFS is “accumulating monies to purchase equipment … for up to 40 brigades in the Clarence Valley” and that the funds raised will be used to purchase “equipment that is not standard supply from the NSW RFS – products that can help us when using dry fire-fighting techniques”.

“It will help us to be more sustainable for this type of weather pattern,” he said.

“We’re holding the money separate from the RFS – through a group of brigade executives, in a community account – because the people giving us the money want us to spend it in the valley.”

At a recent presentation, Grant Jennings, president of the Angourie Residents and Ratepayers Association (ARRA), thanked the firies on behalf of his community and presented them with a $16,000 cheque.

“We are grateful to Wooloweyah RFS and other [Clarence Valley] locals who did such a gallant job protecting our houses in Angourie,” he said in an ARRA media release.

“This sentiment expresses the feeling of all Angourie people.”

The fundraising included donations from grateful residents and proceeds from a raffle of a Will Webber surfboard, donated by John Webber.

A second raffle of alcohol donated by Pacific Hotel will be drawn after all tickets are sold.