The Editor
The Manning Community News

The teardrops that are on this page are real.

They came from the emotion caused by the gratitude to all of the people that have endangered their own safety, in pursuit of serving the community at large, during the current catastrophic conditions that face this wonderful nation of ours.

There is a debt we owe to all of those people involved, from the fire crews (both RFS and Fire + Rescue) & the Police, SES, Ambulance personnel, NPWS, Aerial support & heavy equipment drivers with their bulldozers: traffic controllers and the hundreds of other volunteers that manned food centres and evacuation centres.
I was stuck on the Pacific Highway at the Failford intersection on Friday, the 8th November due to road closures which prevented me getting home to Diamond Beach, just 12 kilometres away. My wife was locked in at Taree, also unable to get home.

During the 17 hours that I was sitting in my car, with other likewise people all around me, I was struck with incredulity at the number of fire trucks, police and SES vehicles heading North to the fire at Hillville.

From where I was, I could see the absolutely horrific clouds of smoke rising from the fireground, and the blood red glow reflecting off them. It was frightening to behold. Yet I was safe.

The brigades came from everywhere. Umina, Avoca, Narara, North Rocks, Belrose, Berowa, Mccullys Gap & The City of Sydney Town Brigade to mention a very small few.

The men and women, boys and girls that were in the trucks had fear in their eyes, but determination in their stances as they looked ahead to where they would shortly be deployed.

It was like looking into Hell for me. For THEM, they were going to bust down the gates and descend into a fire breathing dragon of an inferno that I could not imagine.

The courage and bravado of these hero’s should never be questioned.

I was in tears for quite some time with the emotion of seeing so many people that I didn’t know, who didn’t know me, and yet were risking everything they had, to help to save what they could.
I lived for 17 years at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, before taking the sea change to Diamond Beach, where I have been for 30 years. I have seen a lot of fires in that period of time. But nothing can compare to the ferociousness, and sheer size, of this holocaust.

There will be, as always, recriminations about events that occurred during this most desperate of occasions.

Most will be politically motivated and therefore selfish protection.

Some will be of mistakes made. But mistakes happen, and will be corrected if the situation recurs.
But never should there be anything but the total respect, admiration, gratitude and support of the population for these courageous people who faced the devil and will always be revered as heroes and heroines.

I offer my sincere thanks to you all.

John Shaw
Diamond Beach  

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