I finally saw my parents yesterday; a very emotional reunion at Sorell, which is halfway between Hobart and Dunalley. They were allowed 'out' - they wore wristbands (possibly Falls Festival leftovers) to identify them as locals so they could easily leave and re-enter the area. I think somehow though the wristband is slightly sinister.
Mum gave me a bag of laundry to do for her; I gave her a week's worth of newspapers so they could see the coverage, and some of my lemon butter bundt cake. When I got home and opened the bag of laundry, the smell of smoke was overwhelming; and these were just sheets and towels. I can only imagine how the smoke has permeated the rest of the house, and what their 'work clothes' must smell like.
We had tea and coffee at a cafe and caught up on whose houses have survived, what the response centre at the Dunalley Hotel is like, the state of the roads, what has burnt and what has survived on their property. Evacuated neighbours who have returned to see their homes; those who have lost their homes are already drawing up plans to stay in what was a very pretty part of the world. Mum spoke of survivor guilt; how they are lucky to still have their house (luck, weather conditions and bloody hard work, I say). Dad said their block was an empty paddock when they moved there all those years ago, so it's just like starting again. You have to think like that, don't you?
They've been without hot water for a couple of days - I think their roof-top solar panels had too much ash and soot over them, but someone has done something and somehow they have hot water again. Mum says it is very much like camping; all their meals cooked outside over the gas BBQ. But they are eating well - I will never again make fun of mum's overstocked pantry. I used to joke she could live thru a nuclear winter; well, they are proving that laying down supplies is a good idea.
Incredibly, mum gave me a carton of eggs from the chookies and dad gave me half a dozen apricots. As well as clearing the burnt debris, he is working to keep his remaining fruit trees alive. Wild birds are starting to return and they are seeing wallabies in the chooks' yard, probably looking for food. As they have one of the few unburnt paddocks around, local horses are being agisted on it and I think Blaze Aid is bringing feed; vets have been around to check on them, too.
There is talk the highway will be open to the general public this afternoon. If that is true, I will be down first thing on Monday to see how I can help - for at least a day before I return to work - and then we will discuss how and when I can help again.