The scary, the bad and the good of Gracemere evacuation
STANDING in my driveway looking over Gracemere on Wednesday afternoon felt like I was standing in some sort of Armageddon scene of a blockbuster movie.
As I scurried about gathering essentials and my beloved dog for evacuation, I felt the fire's heat in the extraordinary strong winds gushing through the suburb.
Despite having lived in bushfire-prone zones in the past, this was the first time I had been required to evacuate.
Even the inside of my house had an eerie orange glow about it as I took one last walk through, ticking off lists in my mind of essential items to gather while absorbing the reality that I may never step foot back inside my home filled with memorabilia and memories.
That reality hit me earlier as I drove down the Burnett Highway, feeling my car struggle against the ferocious winds that were carrying fire embers through the air.
Unfortunately, as many people's anxiety levels rose as expected in such a situation, there were some bad moments that need mentioning.
As residents sat in their cars with their children, pets and essentials on the Bruce Highway back into Rockhampton, there were some people who were selfish and rude.
As the hot air rose, so too did the tempers of some of my fellow evacuees.
More than 90 per cent of evacuees did the right thing by staying in the queue in the right-hand lane as they waited for traffic in front of them to slowly move forward through the Yeppen roundabout and into Rockhampton.
However, there were some that couldn't wait and drove down the left-hand lane, pushing their way into the queue closer to the roundabout.
Fights erupted between motorists on the highway as people waited about 45 minutes to get through.
Despite these few incidents on the Bruce, it was amazing to see how a big community could come together for each other in an unprecedented emergency.
Not only were there offers from friends, colleagues and minor acquaintances of help of any kind that one would need, but there were many offers from strangers on social media to help fleeing evacuees or property owners in the line of fire.
Again, as this region has faced another life-threatening disaster, its residents pulled together to help each other in true Aussie spirit. Thank you to all the emergency service personnel who spent long hours in the hot windy conditions, away from their loved ones, to help save this community.
Thank you to all the people who posted offers of help to complete strangers in their time of need.