Monday, February 16, 2009
Another tough day in Flowerdale
I got into Flowerdale at 6.00pm yesterday with a family relief convoy of 5 vehicles to reunite my sister in law and brother in law and their kids, as well as set up a makeshift home so they can start the process of rebuilding.
We grabbed what we needed from the Whittlesea and Diamond Creek Relief centres as well as buying out all supplies of Ratsak from the Greensborough supermarket and grabbing some gas bottles. The amount of help available on the ground at the relief centres is overwhelming and I can tell you that the donations of goods are getting to the survivors.
Negotiating police roadblocks was a different story. We got through the first two at Whittlesea and Humevale easily enough but at Kinglake West there was no way the gung ho police officer was letting us in, even though we had four residents with us two of whom had come down the hill on the same road through the same roadblock an hour earlier. The officer told us that fires had just flared up and the road was now closed to everyone, even residents. Unfortunately for the officer at that moment another Flowerdillian hit the roadblock from the other side and we asked about the road. His reply "Mate, I had the best run ever, it is as clear as a bell and didn't see another vehicle all the way", "but we were just told the fires had flared again", "Maaate. there is nothing left to burn the road is clear". I enquired as to why the officer would lie to us and he invoked the old chestnut "I am just following instructions".
We then had to endure a two hour journey through many of the fire ravaged regions, Kinglake West, Pheasant Creek, Kinglake, Dixons Creek, Glenburn and then Flowerdale. It was like going on a journey through a war zone.
The Flowerdillians have been particularly upset because it has been so hard for them to access relief supplies. They were also stunned to see the sheer mass of resources in Kinglake, not that they think Kinglake doesn't deserve them, they just wonder why factors combine to make it so hard for them to access the basics like diesel, petrol, food, barbeques etc. There is talk of a conspiracy against them but at the end of the day they feel like the town that has been forgotten.
A couple of locals were worried about being able to get to work this week, not so much getting out but in being able to get back in after the dusk curfew if the Kinglake West roadblock doesn't open to the residents (who have ID bands).
The good news is that Vicroads has published that the Kinglake West to Flowerdale Road is now open to residents on the website when i checked 9.00am this morning) but I just spoke to the residents and they are telling me they are still being diverted around the long way @4.20pm. I drove out on the road last night at about 1.00am and it was no problem at all. This is the biggest problem of all for Flowerdale residents. Not sure how to get the roads people and police to coordinate but will keep trying.
They are pretty right for things although i am going to get some camping showers and a couple of bbqs up there asap.
I posted some pics from my day in Flowerdale at http://tinyurl.com/d26rn5