LIVES ON THE LINE: Clinton Fairweather and Harley Smith from Currarong and Jack Chalmers from the West Nowra Rural Fire Service brigades take a break at the Dorrigo Showground.
LIVES ON THE LINE: Clinton Fairweather and Harley Smith from Currarong and Jack Chalmers from the West Nowra Rural Fire Service brigades take a break at the Dorrigo Showground.

Former addict gives back to community hit by bushfires

IT's been 10 years since Chris Roby has touched a drop of alcohol.

The Coffs Harbour man remembers the very date and has it engraved on his motorcycle.

He is a member of the Salvation Army Motorcycle Ministry and this week he's helping prepare food at the Dorrigo Showground evacuation centre for volunteer firefighters and those fleeing the massive Bees Nest fire. As of Wednesday morning it had burnt out 72,989 hectares.

On May 6, 2009 he was in the grip of addiction and called on the Salvation Army in Coffs Harbour for food and shelter.

"I was broke and living in my car. I had been a chronic alcoholic for thirty years and hadn't worked for 20 years," Chris said

"The Major challenged me to pour out my alcohol. He said it would make me feel ten feet tall.

"That was ten years ago and I haven't touched a drop of alcohol since. The Salvation Army saved my life."

He went through rehabilitation at Adele House in Moonee and now mentors other recovering addicts, many of whom are at the Dorrigo Showground helping out.

 

Family and Community Services (FACS) on deck at the Dorrigo Showground fire evacuation centre.
Family and Community Services (FACS) on deck at the Dorrigo Showground fire evacuation centre.

Chris says he jumped at the chance to give back to the community in their time of need.

"These people are suffering. They're worried about their houses and their animals."

As a Salvation Army member he is provided with appropriate training in things like food handling and counselling.

"I like helping people. I get a lot out of it. As soon as I got the call I drove up the mountain."

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Across the region businesses and community groups are rallying behind those impacted by the fires and the firefighters battling to bring them under control.

From publicans offering free drinks to stock and station agents organising agistment for livestock the outpouring of generosity has been remarkable.

With bone-dry conditions and no rain predicted in northern NSW for at least the next two weeks the fire outlook for the summer ahead is very grim.

 

evacuation centre at Dorrigo Showground .. 05 SEPT 2019
evacuation centre at Dorrigo Showground .. 05 SEPT 2019

The Billys Creek fire west of Dorrigo is listed as out of control although conditions have eased today.

The alert status has been downgraded to Advice but the fire is burning close to homes and properties.

Firefighters remain on scene to continue to protect properties in the area.

The RFS has warned people in the areas of Billys Creek, Tyringham, Marengo, Moonpar, Dundarrabin and Bostobrick to put their bush fire survival plans into action.



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