Eighty-one year old Vic Webb, and his trusty dog Lana, are getting back on their feet with help from government services, charities and businesses at the Australind Bushfire Recovery Centre.
The Yarloop resident was left with nothing but the clothes on his back after his home burnt to the ground in the fire that devastated the town.
Mr Webb had sheltered with other residents at the town oval on the night of the fire, where they surrounded by a “vortex” of smoke and flames.
The next morning he returned to where his house once stood.
“It was just a total write-off,” Mr Webb said.
Since then, Mr Webb had been camping at the Leschenhault Leisure Centre in Australind until last Thursday, when local services arranged a caravan for him.
He also visited Department of Human Services staff at the recovery centre, who assisted him to claim for the Federal Government Disaster Recovery Payment of $1000.
“That money will help me pay rent for the land I’m putting the caravan on, and it will help me buy a full wardrobe and a warm coat for when it gets cold. What you see is what I’ve got,” Mr Webb said.
DHS staff member Nadine Giorgi worked with Mr Webb to grant him the payment, and said it was an honour to help out.
“Every one of us has been on watch and act alerts, and have friends and family who have been affected somehow. It’s just the luck of the draw,” Ms Giorgi said.
“It’s a privilege to help other people in our community access the payments like Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance, as well as social work support.
“It gives them the step up they need to rebuild their lives after this devastation.”
Mr Webb, who did not have insurance on his home, is somehow able to smile through it all, and had high praise for the staff and volunteers who have helped affected residents.
“[The stalls at the recovery centre] are well-staffed, and there’s no waiting. They are all experts at what they do,” Mr Webb said.
“I must emphasise the kindness and generosity of all these people. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been around in my eighty-one years.”