Relief in sight as Canungra fire zone community begins recovery process

BEST THERAPY: Nesha Saunders with her therapy dogs Bob the groodle and Shaun the sheeperdoodle and SES volunteer Georgia Maughan. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
BEST THERAPY: Nesha Saunders with her therapy dogs Bob the groodle and Shaun the sheeperdoodle and SES volunteer Georgia Maughan. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

AS displaced residents of Sarabah, Beechmont and Binna Burra start returning to their homes, firefighters and volunteers continue to work on keeping the fires at bay and providing help for those who have lost everything.

This morning Rhonda Collins was at the Canungra Showgrounds with her massage table offering free massages to anyone needing a bit of stress relief.

Gecko Heckenberg stops for a free massage from Rhonda Collins.

Gecko Heckenberg stops for a free massage from Rhonda Collins.

Also at the Showgrounds was Nesha Saunders who brought her therapy dog, Bob the groodle along with his apprentice therapy dog Shaun the sheeperdoodle.

"We were here this morning for about an hour-and-a-half when the firies came off shift," Ms Saunders said.

"The dogs seem to boost morale for the firefighters and gives them another, more positive focus rather than the bushfire."

Ms Collins said she took the day off work as a massage therapist to lend a hand the best way she knew how.

"Massage is a good way to release tension and I wanted to help in some way," she said.

One of the Canungra residents who took her up on the offer was "Gecko" Heckenberg who was evacuated from his Limerick Drive home last Thursday.

"I feel taller after that massage," he said.

"We were told to leave home on Thursday and we stayed in our van here at the camping grounds until Monday when it was safe to go home.

"But Monday night we were told to leave again.

"I have to say that Vicki and Gary who run the caravan park here haven't treated us like evacuees but more like family."

Firefighter Paul Harvey has been getting by on very little sleep.

Firefighter Paul Harvey has been getting by on very little sleep.

Mr Heckenberg said the fire had been mere metres away from him.

"I was throwing water on my roof and exhausted 30,000 litres from our tanks.

"I thought we were going to lose the house but the helicopter water bombed us and saved it.

"I was there when they dropped the water, it felt like being hit with golf balls.

"I went and thanks the firefighters on Friday night."

Firefighter Paul Harvey stopped for a massage too.

"I'm from the northern region and I've been here since Friday," he said.

"We are all pretty exhausted, I've been operating on four hours sleep a day."