Published On 06 May 2018 at 02:00 PM
Three weeks after an out of control bushfire ripped through 3848 hectares of Royal National Park, threatening hundreds of homes across the western suburbs of Sutherland Shire, the local community has come together to thank their heroes for saving their lives and homes.
Sutherland Shire Council hosted the Community Thank You BBQ at Parc Menai on Sunday, to acknowledge the unbelievably courageous efforts of local emergency services including the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, State Emergency Service, NSW Police, Ambulance NSW and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“To be here today and to have the opportunity to thank these courageous men and women for putting their lives on the line means a lot to me and our whole community,” said Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce.
“It was one of the driest periods on record for Sutherland Shire and with 30 degree temperatures and 70 kilometre winds, our residents in this area were fearful they’d lose their homes, or worse.
“Thankfully, as a result of the phenomenal efforts of our emergency service personnel, no lives or homes were lost.”
Within 24 hours of Sutherland Shire Council making plans for the ‘Community Thank You BBQ’, several local businesses, community groups, performers and entertainers put up their hands to sponsor, support or volunteer at the event.
Club Central Menai, Menai Marketplace, ANSTO and SUEZ each contributed to sponsoring the event, with Rotary Australia volunteering their services on the BBQ and 3Bridges Community putting on giant garden activities for kids.
“Club Central Menai is pleased to be partnering with Council and the other local businesses to support this special community thank you BBQ,” said Mike Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Club Central.
“As well as bringing the community together after such a frightening experience, this event gives us the opportunity to express our genuine gratitude to everyone who worked so hard to keep our community safe, especially our tireless emergency services personnel,” he said.
There were emergency services vehicles on display from NSW Rural Fire Service Sutherland Shire, NSW SES Sutherland Shire, Fire and Rescue NSW and Sutherland Shire Police Area Command, as well as inflatable obstacle fun for kids and face painting.
Local personality Dane Wheeler was MC for the event and live performances included tunes from Endless Summer Beach Party, Hot Potato Band and talented local solo artist Joel Leffler Music who was one of the first to volunteer his time.
“I was born and raised in Sutherland Shire and there is a real sense of community spirit here, where everyone feels like family,” said Leffler, who lives in Gymea Bay.
“I grew up in a bushy area and know how unpredictable fires can be, so when I heard about this event I immediately wanted to be involved, to show our community they are not alone.”
The 2017/2018 summer season saw four significant fires across the area, burning a total of 6593 hectares of bushland across the National Park and Kurnell, but none as fierce as those experienced by the Sutherland Shire Community in 1994, 1997 and 2002.
“We have learnt from those past experiences and we’ve taken steps to improve our emergency service capabilities across Sutherland Shire,” Mayor Pesce said.
“The Menai Rural Fire Station was the latest in a series of upgrades under Council’s Rural Fire Station upgrade program, and that played a key role in the outcome of this fire.
“Soon, we will open a new, state of the art Rural Fire Station that is nearing completion at Sandy Point, which will only strengthen our capabilities in that area to both prepare and respond to potential threats.”
Sutherland Shire Council would again like to sincerely thank the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, State Emergency Service, NSW Police, Ambulance NSW and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for their efforts in protecting our community from unthinkable disaster.
Thank you also to the Sutherland Shire community for their kindness and their generosity, especially those who have made our Community Thank You event today possible.
Liverpool City Council held their Community Thank You event today also.
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