Couple loses everything to fires, find out on TV
JULIE Heilbronn and Peter Davis were at work when they got word they must evacuate their Norpine Road property due to the blazing fires that have devastated the Coast. And while the potential to lose everything was a worry, they were more concerned with their dog Akira who was still on the property.
Julie said she drove home from work in Rockhampton and headed for their property to find Akira and get her to safety.
"I made it to the roadblock but couldn't get through, I screamed her name at the top of my lungs over and over hoping she would hear me," Julie said.
"The emergency workers were so kind, but they couldn't allow me through because of the safety concerns.
"As it turned out, Akira had been found and through Facebook we were able to be reunited.
"With Akira in tow we went to my daughters' home and waited for Peter who was working at the mines."
The couple were to receive another blow when on Sunday, when watching the news, they saw images of the ruins of their property that Peter lovingly built 20 years ago.
Peter said it was such a shock to find out they had lost everything in that way.
"We lost our home, all the contents, our shed, my collection of cars were burnt out shells and all our machinery," he said.
"The only thing not gone was an old caravan down the back with a car sitting beside it and a friend's excavator which had been left there to get some work done. Everything else is gone."
The couple went back to the property for the first time on the weekend to see the damage first-hand and then, the realisation really hit home.
"We would pick things up thinking we could salvage mementos but everything we picked up just crumbled in our hands," Peter said.
"We knew we had lost everything but until we went out there and saw it with our own eyes there was just no way to take it all on board.
"Julie just cried and cried, I was numb.
"Since then everything has been a huge blur."
Julie and Peter have been overwhelmed with offers of support since the fires swept through and changed their lives.
"I had nothing but the clothes on my back so once the initial shock had passed, we began working out what we needed to do next," Julie said.
"The community meetings were great, everyone helped guide us, the firemen, rural fireman, ambulance officers, police, SES workers, Council staff and pretty much the entire community have been there to help.
"I went into Big W because I heard they were offering help and I needed to get some basic things for us to get by such as underwear and toiletries.
"The staff told me to get a trolley and fill it with whatever I liked. They were amazing. Chrissy's Boarding Kennels have helped us with puppy sitting while we have been out and about trying to sort through everything that comes with losing everything.
"I went into Farnborough Store where I buy my dog food and they helped us with both dog food and a donation of cash to help us out.
"We had been planning to have the family all out to our place for Christmas, I went into the butcher to cancel my Christmas order because clearly that can't happen now. I was stunned that before I left one of the young butchers said on December 24 I have to come back in and collect a ham that he had just paid for.
"I work for Puma who are now running a raffle across their locations to raise money to help. People have been stopping me in the street and giving me hugs, everyone has been seriously kind and generous."
The couple are now hoping to find a fully furnished home to move into while they go through the long process of putting their lives back together.
Peter said he and some friends will start clearing the debris away as soon as the insurance company gives the go ahead.
"There's nothing there to save so we will run a dozer through and start from scratch," he said.
"Julie is already looking at fire prevention building materials and plans so we can try to rebuild as fast as possible.
"We can't replace what we have lost but the main thing is no one lost their life and for that we are thankful.
"Throughout this entire ordeal, everyone has been amazing from emergency workers, Council, businesses, family, friends, neighbours and people on the street we don't even know.
"We really appreciate everything everyone has done for us and we know that support will still be there as we rebuild our lives."