Stories of courage and care: your heroes from a summer of fire, drought and flood

The Brown family on Corrigans Beach, Batehaven, New Year's Eve.
The Brown family on Corrigans Beach, Batehaven, New Year's Eve.

It has been Australia's lost summer. Drought, hail, floods and, worst of all, bushfires have ravaged communities all over the nation.

But the selfless actions of friends, family, neighbours, strangers, local groups and volunteer organisations have inspired us and strengthened the bonds of community.

Please join us in saying thanks to the heroes of the home front by sharing your stories of gratitude. To salute a person or a group, please use this form:

Your messages of thanks

My neighbour the saviour

Many heartfelt thanks to my next door neighbour, Ian Cocks.

For several months Ian has been away from home more often than not, working to keep communities safe from fire.

When fire approached Eden I evacuated as I was not prepared to stay and defend.

When I returned I discovered that Ian, who must have been in a state of exhaustion, had found the time and energy and had hosed down my house. He is a hero.

Amanda Midlam, Eden, NSW

The kindness of strangers

After leaving Canberra on Christmas eve to spend the holiday season with my parents at their Sunshine Bay home, my husband, three children and I couldn't have imagined the horrific disaster that was about to unfold.

After being evacuated to the beach on New Year's Eve, we spent from 8.30am until 4pm at the beach wondering how my dad was coping back at the house. On the beach the lost faces of people told a devastating story as everyone gathered together to shelter from the impending fire. A family made up of people from Womboin, Sydney and Surfside helped us to shelter in a cove at one end of the beach while we watched helicopters fly overhead to put out a fire at the opposite end.

As the fire dulled then came the smoke, as we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces we headed to the shoreline, certain we would have to get into the water. A very scary time for our 2, 4 and 6 year old children. The family from Surfside lost their home that day and we will never be able to thank them for their friendly faces in what was such a traumatic time.

Days later with still no power my mum and I headed to the petrol station at 2am where we were certain it would be quieter than in the day, the place was heaving. As we waiting in line and then finally approached the pump a man called Gordon from Mogo got out of his car to see if we were ok, it's then he started to wash mum's car windows and proceed to tell us that he was the only home in his street still standing, 6 of his neighbours properties lost.

The genuine feeling of loss for his neighbours but also a sense of relief was clear in his eyes. Was he evacuating, no, he was getting fuel for his bulldozer so he help where he could. What a great guy.

While waiting over an hour in the line at Coles to get supplies a man from Clide Computers handed out UPS battery bank to as many people as he could. This bank is capable of charging 4 phones without power. Such a generous act.

A Christmas and New Year we will never forget but those days taught us to be prepared, expect the unexpected and that you can rely on the kindness of strangers to get you through some of the darkest days.

Claire Brown, Casey, ACT

Calm within the chaos

I cannot thank them enough for how they have worked to save our farm.

They put in huge containment lines and just gave us a sense of peace when everything was chaotic, knew they were doing everything in their power to protect us and make us feel safe!

We want to donate to the RFS but I prefer a direct donation so I know that my money is going to Clandulla 1.

Anne Attwood, Clandulla, NSW