DESTROYED: 11-year-old Harrison looks at the bushfire damage on the Limberg family's farm near Esk.
DESTROYED: 11-year-old Harrison looks at the bushfire damage on the Limberg family's farm near Esk.

Family finds hope after bushfires ravage their property

IT'S HARD to have hope for the future when bushfire has ravaged your small farm and destroyed the business your husband built with his father.

But thanks to the support of Vinnies, Somerset local Glynis Limberg has hope again.

When Glynis and her husband Ray's small cattle farm near Esk was impacted by not one but two separate bushfires late last year, their home was fortunately spared, but they lost her husband's sawmill, tools and everything he needed for his small wood-turning business.

The fires also destroyed a number of their livestock and all their fencing.

Glynis said driving away from the property was one of the scariest moments of her life.

"We were just trying to catch our breath and then I went outside and thought 'Oh, no, it's just so bad," Glynis said.

"It was nearly in our front yard. The police came and then picked up the geriatric cat and my mother-in-law and then that was our cue to go.

"It was a horrific drive in itself because further down the road the fire took hold and I could feel the radiating heat through our car window, I couldn't see anything."

She said the smoke was so think, it was impossible to see more than a metre in front.

"So I just told myself 'just keep going, just drive', so I just had to pray no trees had come down across the road or anything like that," she said.

"I was just horrified because I could lose everything, and all my pets were left behind in the house and I couldn't do anything. But the house survived."

Glynis said one of the worst aspects of the fire was not knowing what she would return to after the family was given the all clear to return home after three nights of worry.

"It took me a week to actually drive up to the sawmill and that still hurts to talk about my husband losing his sawmill," she said.

"My 11-year-old son shed tears because he'd been up there with his dad and helped drive the tractor and helped his Dad at the sawmill sometimes."

The return home wasn't easy, with essential services still knocked out at the time.

"The council said we could go home after two nights but we still had no power to the house and when we have no power we have no water and no way to keep food cold and we'd lost all the food in the fridges."

After rounding up all surviving cattle and animals, the initial steps of figuring how to start again began for Glynis.

"We haven't actually sat down to think about (the value of the loss) because that's just emotional. My husband was thinking just to replace the sawmill would be $80-$90,000 on its own with second-hand stuff," she said.

"The cattle yards, I don't know, maybe $15,000. And in the future some of those lost cattle would have carried calves."

And that's where Vinnies was able to provide her and Ray with some light at the end of what will be a long tunnel ahead for the Limberg family.

"The planning (for the future) is very, very hard because when you're traumatised you find it very hard to think too far ahead. We still have trouble thinking about what to do tomorrow," she said.

"Vinnies has helped dramatically. My husband was so low he'd say 'I don't know how to get out of this'. He couldn't see the future for a while, so I had to help him through his emotions and just tell him that the natural emotions that you go through are normal, that it's all part of grieving.

"I've had to say to him 'You don't know what tomorrow brings, you have to be strong'."

Vinnies assisted the Limbergs with $3000 towards ongoing costs on their farm and provided Christmas hampers to give them a brighter Christmas and vouchers to use in local shops.

"The day St Vincent de Paul put that money into our account gave him so much hope, he knew he could feed his cattle.

"Once the income's gone, that's it. It's organisations like Vinnies that have got us through."

If you've been impacted by bushfires or drought and you need help, please call Vinnies Helpline on 1800 846 643.