Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

HOUR OF NEED Family Pushes on as Smoke Settles; Chambers Miss 'The Small Luxuries' after Fire

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

HOUR OF NEED Family Pushes on as Smoke Settles; Chambers Miss 'The Small Luxuries' after Fire

Article excerpt

Byline: Emily Burley

FLEEING their burning home in the middle of the night, barefoot and in pyjamas, the Chambers family could only just begin to process how their lives would change.

Almost three weeks on and still with no permanent place to live, mum Jackie says she's glad her loved ones are safe and well but getting back on their feet is proving challenging.

WHERE would you go if you couldn't go home?

Fortunately it's a question many of us never have to answer, but for the Chambers family, a fire in their duplex meant they had to make some unexpected decisions.

After waking to strange noises about 3.30am two Mondays ago, mother-of-six Jackie Chambers soon realised their building was alight.

While Jackie and her husband Rick, their four children home at the time and a couple living in the connecting residence all escaped unharmed, the property was badly damaged.

Jackie said the aftermath - immediately and later on - had been full of uncertainty.

"We sort of felt stranded, sitting in the gutter outside our home for about six hours until the police took us down to the station," she said.

"It sort of felt like by 9.30am, everyone had up and forgotten about us already.

"It was really only a neighbour, Terry from the Sandy Beach Baptist Church, and his family who brought us water, took us to their house to use the toilet and later gave us food.

"Thank God we had a neighbour like that - and I didn't even know him before the fire."

Jackie said she was fortunate to have a sister who lived nearby.

"If she wasn't here I wouldn't know where to go, what to do, how to do it.

"She was in Sydney at the time and I called her, and she just said 'go to my place'."

Due to limited space, the family is now split between two houses until they can find a more permanent home.

"The three oldest boys are living in a shack at Sandy Beach, but it hasn't got much in the way of facilities," Jackie said.

"They have to come back to my sister's to take showers, use the internet and that sort of thing. …

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