Sometimes I am just a little too English. I have made light of my trauma at, as I felt, abandoning my friend in the midst of a bushfire. I mean I was it. I was Miss Johnny-On-The-Spot. I had genuinely believed, that this might be the last conversation I ever had with my friend. I had not known what to do. My friend (I will call her Jane) was about to run into the water, (or so I thought) to escape the biggest, most ferocious bushfire, Australia has ever known. I was simply a voice on the end of the line.
Was I going to hear my friend die?
I was torn. Should I keep talking or should I get off the line in case family was trying to contact her?
We prayed. I had then asked her what she wanted me to do. I had been the one to point out that, family might be trying to reach them. I had got straight off the phone to her and then straight on the phone to another friend. The two of us had prayed. I texted just about every Christian I knew, to pray for Jane and her husband, then switched on the tv to watch the news.
It had not seemed to me that anybody knew very much, until I had heard about the wind change a couple of hours later. The town had been spared the worst of the threat. Nonetheless they were all still in very real danger. I knew they would all be spending that fearful night on the beach. While I had been speaking to Jane a woman had come up to their car with further information. I had heard about the fire trucks, which had been there protecting them, which had helped ease my concern a little.
For the next few days I had held my breath, anxiously awaiting news.
Last Sunday, after I had been sending her text messages, (and making a daily attempt to get through on the phone,) this is the message she sent:
Caution this is distressing and contains information I have not previously shared.
“There were 25 trucks that saved the town. They were then deployed else where while 3 remained to keep on top of the spot fires. They allowed an extra 200 people on the ship who were standing around so 1200 in total. X remained. The fire returned back due to wind changes which caused the sky to go black again at 2pm yesterday and the smoke was dreadful so they are now boarding the next ship. Mrs X had to revive a neighbour across the rd. He was unconscious. He went to check on an elderly lady living on her own who he found dead. The danger still there is spotfires and smoke inhalation. I think all that experience there yesterday shocked them so they finally decided to go. They did back burning around there house to protect it. I atm feel extremely tired dizzy. I want to get to A Doctor. I fell over in ship. Can’t bend my knee. My leg is bruised all over my shin and my knee.”
I have not heard anything further about the two people who were found.
Yesterday I finally spoke to her. She is still understandably distressed at all she had experienced . We had ended up crying together. I had been able to disclose how I felt I had been abandoning her, when I had hung up, as they had awaited the imminent arrival of the flames. She said that I had done my job praying with her and then praying for all of them.
All the people trapped in Mallacoota will be changed forever. They have all faced potential death but they have also likely seen the miracles which can happen when you ask God for help.
Many people were praying for Mallacoota as the fire approached.
Thank you too to the courageous firefighters.
Mallacoota was saved from the fiery furnace.