When The Smoke Clears: Surviving the Australian bushfires was digitally launched on May 20 from Bateman’s Bay on NSW’s South Coast, one of the most heavily impacted regions in the 2019-20 fire season.
Christian author Chrissy Guinery (Falling Up Stairs, Room to Breathe) joins Dave on the good read and takes us inside the smoke-drenched landscape of the South Coast as over three months she and her family are evacuated numerous times, separated by raging fires and ultimately, her daughter’s home is lost among the hundreds destroyed on New Year’s Eve in the Bateman’s Bay region.
While people across Australia and around the world watched on through media reports, few can comprehend the length and extent of fire terror experienced not only by the people of South Coast communities, but in other fire ravaged regions across the nation.
‘My middle-daughter’s house is burning down and I’ve lost contact with my eldest daughter as the fire front threatens her home. It’s the last day of 2019 and it feels like the end of the world.’
So begins this fast-paced, personal and grassroots account of living through a torturous fire season and finding a way to push through to recovery.
And while the eyewitness accounts of being caught in a bushfire emergency are remarkable, so too are the insights, advice and lessons learned about what it will take to recover, including from a range of experts.
As a Christian, Chrissy weaves through the book her prayers, her wrestling with God, the faith and encouragement shared with friends and special moments such as putting on community Christmas carols with the threat of fire everywhere, and sharing at the first church service of 2020 – in the midst of blackout.
A Postscript to the book describes the way fire victims have barely had the chance to breathe clean air, before another emergency has come to shake their world.
‘This is a story of faith, resilience and hope’, Chrissy says, ‘but it begins by bringing the reader into the reality of being surrounded by out of control bushfires for three months, and ends with a plea not to forget those who are still a long way from recovery.’
Book information: When The Smoke Clears: Surviving the Australian bushfires, by Chrissy Guinery. Published by Fifty Days Press, May 2020, RRP $22.95, ISBN 978-0-6487934-2-7. Paperback 195 pages plus colour inset.
Author information: Chrissy Guinery is all about empowering others. As a successful author and motivational speaker, Chrissy is renowned for her infectious joy, passionate faith and her desire to see others rise to fulfil their purpose and potential. To achieve this, she has been sharing her life secrets for more than 20 years in a down-to-earth relatable style, leaving people with essential tools for pursuing a more effective and fulfilling life. She is the author of Falling Up Stairs (2016) and Room to Breathe (2018).
Endorsements: ‘When The Smoke Clears gives us lessons to take away and prompts us to have those important conversations. It reminds us, just as the black trees are shooting green leaves, we too are branching out and healing.’ Mayor Liz Innes
‘I’m so glad Chrissy put this book together. It is important that what happened is documented. When The Smoke Clears is significant because it gets the story out about volunteers and people directly affected by the fires.’ RFS Captain Ian Aitken
Australian Bushfires 2019-2020:*
- 33 people died as a result of bushfires including nine firefighters – three from the United States
- Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) says a total of 3,094 houses were lost across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, ACT, Western Australia and South Australia. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) reports that 2,439 homes were destroyed in NSW.
- AFAC reports that over 17 million hectares had been burned across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, ACT, Western Australia and South Australia. An additional 7 million hectares may have also been burned in the Norther Territory.
- On January 8, 2020, Professor Chris Dickman, an expert from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science in the ecology, conservation and management of Australian mammals, estimated that more than one billion animals nationally had so far been killed in the bushfires.
- On February 28, 2020 AFAC published a table showing up to 7,373 firefighters were deployed during the fire season (more than 5,000 from NSW). ‘This bushfire season has seen Australia’s largest coordinated interstate and international deployment of fire and emergency personnel by far’, AFAC said.
- More than 70 countries offered assistance, 6500 ADF personnel and 3,000 Army Reservists were mobilised while three navy vessels were deployed for evacuations and to provide aid.