Everyone will be aware that devastating bushfires have been ravaging parts of Australia since last September. The horrific scenes have been described by many as apocalyptic and the losses are almost too enormous to speak of. The hearts of Australians have been breaking, but the brave and dedicated men and women in our communities, volunteering to fight these fires and helping to put lives back together, are angels in disguise.
We have one of these angels on our team at Rowe Partners, Port Augusta - Markeeta Jeffreys. We’d like to take a minute to acknowledge her and thank her for her community service.
Recently Markeeta joined a group of 19 volunteer firefighters from Stirling North CFS and Region 4 as part of a strike team to Kangaroo Island (KI). Such deployments of SA CFS volunteers have been rolling since October, some within South Australia and others interstate.
Markeeta and the team were deployed for a period of 5 days blacking out (mopping up) on the island. It’s a very important role in ensuring fires don’t reignite from burning tree roots underground. Fire can travel metres underground and ignite leaf litter on the surface starting new bushfires long after they have previously been put out.
The team were flown to KI from Port Augusta by the RAAF on a C27 Spartan aeroplane, landing in and staying at Kingscote in a tent village with hundreds of other volunteers and defence force personnel.
Markeeta said the experience was wonderful. It was a great mental and physical challenge and an opportunity to muck in with a spirit of camaraderie with other volunteers helping the KI community and animals, applying the skills she’s honed over 9.5 years in the CFS and further developing skills, particularly in off-road driving in a fire zone, she said. Blacking out involves teamwork, long hot days in the field, identifying and soaking hot spots, managing hazards and encounters with injured, thirsty wildlife. On the first day, she and her team rescued a koala that had suffered burns, caring for him until they could hand him over to wildlife volunteers. A special memorable experience.
Markeeta explained that, when being deployed, a challenge for CFS volunteers can be taking time off work which can sometimes come at personal cost. She’d initially applied for annual leave and was happy to take it but a couple of her co-workers, who also wanted to help, donated some of their own leave to Markeeta and Rowe Partners covered the rest to support Markeeta in this great cause.
As traumatic as natural disasters can be, the coming together of people in our communities to help each other, donate and take on volunteer roles is heart-warming.
If you’d like to help in the bushfire recovery effort but are not sure how here are some ideas - take a holiday to KI or another fire-affected area to help get businesses back on their feet. Buy SA food and wine. Donate funds to your local division of the CFS, the CFS Foundation or a wildlife rescue organisation. Or you could even join your local CFS. The Stirling North CFS trains every Wednesday night. Drop-in and see if becoming a CFS volunteer firefighter would suit you.
Thanks, Markeeta and all Region 4 volunteers. We appreciate your service and are super proud of you!
Want to serve your community? Here are some links.
Want to donate? Here are some links.
Visiting KI and spending money there will help the community get back on their feet.