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Housing : June 2009
Members in the Community Right: (L–R) Rob Tunney, Peter Sutton (Sutton Tools P/L), Judith Bell (Blackburn North Lions Club President) and Colin Davey (Lions member). Below: The fire storm approaching the Libreri’s home. other builders to set up another committee to deal directly with the council. ‘We’ve asked all the tradespeople up here to register with [us]. Even though there aren’t enough builders here to rebuild the town, we want to make sure our local builders get a slice of the pie.’ The clean-up process is another aspect that Thomas feels passionate about, and feels the process has been too slow. ‘We need to get it cleaned up and we need to do it quickly,’ he says. The areas where people died should have been a priority, he adds. ‘A lot of us stood up straight away and did what we had to do and we haven’t stopped’ Thomas pulled a neighbour from his burning house and he, Tessa and his neighbours kept him alive in their swimming pool for six hours before he could be transported to hospital. Sadly, his neighbour died in hospital 13 days later. The destruction all around is a gruesome reminder of the huge loss of life. ‘We’re still looking at the same things we were looking at on the Sunday morning. It’s very distressing, especially for my children who walk past those houses on their way to school.’ ‘They’re [cleaning up] one house every three days; 672 houses burned down – you don’t need to be a genius to work out how long this is going to take.’ He’s encouraging everyone affected to go to counselling of some form or another. ‘There’s a lot of stuff you just can’t push aside, that you have to deal with.We need time to heal and come to terms with what happened that day, too,’ he says, of himself and his wife Tessa, ‘but we haven’t had time’. ‘Honestly, I haven’t even spoken to her about the day yet.We fought that fire tooth and nail; we looked at each other and thought we were going to die ...’ Thomas’ dedication to his community has been an inspiration to everyone aroundAustralia. ‘There is a code of ethics when you live in the country,’ he says. ‘You’re obligated to look after your neighbours and that shone through on the night.’ Hundreds of HIA members around the country have responded. Lyndon White, a builder from Bellbridge in Victoria, is another who has given his time and resources to the bushfire effort. Lyndon has been helping to round-up hand tools to donate to tradesmen whose livelihood has been affected by the fires. ‘It would be pretty hard to start again without any tools, especially cleaning up,’ he says. ‘If you don’t have rakes or shovels you can’t do anything much.’ As a result of anABC interview with Lyndon about what he and others were doing, the response from the public as well as a number of businesses in the area has been great, he says. 58 ‘We had a lot of retired tradespeople offering their tools, and we would go and pick them up. The community came together really well,’ says Lyndon. The loads of tools have been gratefully accepted and will help everyone to get on with their lives, and to speed up the clean-up. It can’t happen fast enough for Thomas Libreri. ‘I’ve lived up here for 25 years so I have a lot of love for Kinglake. It’s important we get the job done and get it done right.’ H Tools for Tradies The Tools for Tradies appeal has been set up to assist tradespeople who have lost their tools as a result of the devastating bushfires in Victoria early this year. The appeal can be accessed through their website, www.lionsclub.org.au/tft where pledges of tools from donors can be matched with requests for tools from fire affected tradespeople. Donations are still needed; anyone with power and hand tools they can spare is urged to contact the Tools for Tradies appeal. Contact Rob Tunney and his team on 03 9879 7996 or 0419 894 013, or email email@example.com Thank you to all those who have already given generously. HOUSING JUNE 2009