Australian fire survivor and humanitarian Turia Pitt has opened up on the devastating toll of the bushfires both on her NSW South Coast community, and on her personally.
An engineer, athlete and motivational speaker, Turia is currently pregnant with her second child and took to Instagram to share her reaction to the bushfires threatening her home in Shoalhaven on the South Coast.
The mum-of-one famously sustained burns to 65% of her body when trapped in a grassfire during a 2011 marathon and revealed the monstrous fires raging at the moment have had a serious impact.
Fires had been raging up and down the South Coast for close to a month. People were evacuated from Bawley Point and Tabourie Lake. Milton was hit. Michael did food and supply runs in his boat. We watched as the sky went red and black days before Christmas. More fires broke out on New Years Eve. I watched, my mouth agape, as two angry plumes from the fires north and south of us joined together over Mollymook Beach. And then, the power went out. Mobile reception became spotty. Internet was down. Rumours swirled around town like the ashes that rained down on us. Embers in our backyards. Homes had been lost. Whole streets obliterated. A girlfriend’s panicked text about her dad being trapped. I packed my go bag and filled the bath with water. Michael cooked bacon and eggs on the barbecue outside. Hakavai and I read books on the balcony. We watched as the fine grey smoke settled in on our beloved Mollymook Beach. At a quarter to eight, the evening was quiet. Not a peaceful and serene quiet, but an eerie quiet. An apocalyptic quiet. No one on their balconies drinking beers. No music blaring from our neighbours next door, or from the houses across the street. No revellers preparing to celebrate the new year. And it was dark. No power. No lights. First of all: I’m sorry that I haven’t been more proactive in this time. It’s been a tough few weeks for me emotionally. I’ve had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me. I’ve tried to not let the panic genie out of the bottle (because once that genie’s out, you’ve got zero chance of squashing it back in). And, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve done 10 marathons. And we can’t relax because it’s only the start of summer, and it’s not over yet. So just like in a marathon, I’ve realised I have to pace myself. A lot of things have been tough. Being 8 months pregnant with a toddler, I’ve felt as useful as tits on a bull. I’ve had recurring nightmares about running through flames with my son in my arms. It’s been difficult to sleep, eat or think and all I’ve really wanted to do is tap out, put my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is going on. Continued in comments.
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“It’s been a tough few weeks for me emotionally. I’ve had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me,” she revealed.
“I’ve had recurring nightmares about running through flames with my son in my arms. It’s been difficult to sleep, eat or think and all I’ve really wanted to do is tap out...”
The heartbreaking comments will come as no surprise to followers of the Aussie survivor.
Turia was just 24 years old when she was caught in the marathon fire and lost seven fingers, taking over two years to recover.
The 32-year-old also took time to explain the harrowing atmosphere that engulfed the beachside town on New Year’s Eve, while fires threatened them on all sides.
Written in the caption of a sweet photo of the mum with two-year-old Hakavai asleep beside her, the post painted a grim picture.
She described filling her bath with water, a precautionary measure should the water lines be compromised, and packing her ‘go bag’ and emergency supply kit if they needed to flee.
“At a quarter to eight, the evening was quiet. Not a peaceful and serene quiet, but an eerie quiet. An apocalyptic quiet,” she wrote.
“And it was dark. No power. No lights.”
Spend With Them campaign
Now the expectant mum is using her platform to raise awareness and has spear-headed a new campaign, Spend with Them.
The campaign is aimed at helping devastated holiday destinations rebuild, which she described on Today this morning.
The ‘Spend With Them’ campaign is encouraging people to shop with local businesses from affected areas, rather than established brands unaffected by the blazes.
In under 24 hours, the page has already attracted over 40k followers and features a selection of businesses shoppers can access online if they are afraid of visiting in person.
Explaining the initiative on Today this morning, Turia explained the campaign was designed to bolster local businesses economy immediately, with funds she says they are in desperate need of.
“You can jump on to the Spend With Them Instagram page and buy something from a homewares store in Milton, or a bottle of gin from a microbrewery in Bega and you can help put the money into the pockets of those who need it,” she told Karl and Ally.
“(The) campaign is just a way that I can be of service and that I can help, not just my local community, but communities that have been affected all across Australia.”
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