Evacuees come home to an 'alien' place but still feel 'blessed'
LEAH and Ken Chynoweth-Tidy arrived home at 2pm on Tuesday, roughly the same time they were forced out nine days earlier.
Ms Chynoweth-Tidy said a thunderstorm was a strange and "quite scary" way to be welcomed back to Deepwater.
Mr Chynoweth-Tidy said the rain was welcome in light of the charred and "alien" landscape outside their house.
"It was remarkable, we turned back up and the house was exactly the same as we left it nine days ago but the surrounding bush is ... just gone," Mr Chynoweth-Tidy said.
"It's very strange to be sitting in normality in one sense and looking out over something (like that).
"But we are incredibly blessed, incredibly fortunate and there are many who are worse off than us."
The couple was glad to see that their nine chickens, one rooster and four ducks were unharmed by the fires.
Ms Chynoweth-Tidy thanked council workers who provided the animals sustenance during their absence.
"They're a little bit edgy, they're not as settled as they normally are. I think they're sort of keeping an eye out just in case another fire comes through," Ms Chynoweth-Tidy said.
"I have no idea what they would have gone through the other night but they're all fine and still laying eggs."
Days ahead for the couple will be spent cleaning up and supporting fellow community members, some of whom are "anxious, upset and distressed" by their loss.
"But I guess many of us are relieved we are now home at our properties again so we can start working on what we have to tend to and deal with and move on from there ... into the recovery phase," Ms Chynoweth-Tidy said.
"Being evacuated and out of the place for nine days is difficult. When you've got livestock that you've left in there as well you just worry about everything."
Ms Chynoweth-Tidy said she and her husband wanted to arrive home before the storm struck on Tuesday to block their water tanks and prevent contamination - an issue faced by many in their situation.
"It's very smoky, there's black ash on everything," she said.
"There was fallen trees in the driveway, which we had to clear ... That would have been one of the dangers the fire people would also face, not just the fires themselves but huge tress, I'm talking enormous, falling."
Ms Chynoweth-Tidy said despite the small hurdles, she and her husband felt "well looked after" compared to a small number of residents who lost their homes.
"We're there for them. Anything they need, even just to have a chat or a cup of tea," she said.
"Just the luck of the draw sometimes, the weather conditions, whether the firepeople are there at the time ... but in amongst all of that disaster and destruction there's all this evidence of life.
"I've got tomatoes still growing on some of my bushes ... There's still things that carry on and still grow and still breathe."