By Claire Ottaviano
LIKE the Easter lily, the community of Tilden Park is already beginning to rebloom.
The pink bell-shaped lily flowers shot up on Tilden Drive resident Rob Robson’s property this week in what he called, the first signs of life returning.
Mr Robson got out with his family before the fire came through on two fronts, destroying his home.
Miraculously, his horses rode out the worst of it, taking shelter in a back corner of the paddock away from the fire.
He said the community’s spirit in the weeks after had shone bright through the darkness with strength and determination, like the lily.
“The community members have done so much for each other,” he said.
“Local ladies, the ones who stayed, were looking after our animals, dropping off chook feed, watering our horses when we weren’t allowed in,” he said.
“The blokes were good, they were helping out with bits and pieces, moving fallen trees from driveways, dropping hay off.”
Gidgegannup has been his home for the past 28 years, and he will rebuild.
“It’s a new chapter,” he said.
“A new page – that’s all you can do.”
It is less than three weeks since the fire ravaged 86 homes and countless infrastructure across Wooroloo and Gidgegannup, with Tilden Park the worst hit.
In one street, Kooringal Vale, 10 out of 11 homes are gone.
But residents are returning and spreading a new message with the hashtag #tildenstrong.
Falls Heights resident Phil Randall, who also lost his home, designed bumper stickers with the hashtag to foster strength and unity within the already tight-knit community.
“At the very beginning when all of this happened ‘Tilden Strong’ was being thrown around on our local Facebook group,” he said.
“I was feeling a bit helpless, so I sat down at my computer and came up with the design.
“It’s just about bringing everyone together.
“Our community togetherness and our strength is what’s getting us through.”
Mr Randall and his housemate fled the fire, escaping with only their lives and their dog Claus.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said.
“I was in shock for several days.
“Everything is gone but the water tank – apparently my water tank saved three other houses, which is definitely a comfort.”
As well as the stickers, a banner is currently being made with the hashtag and talk of a sculpture made of leftover metal and burnt tools is also gaining momentum.
A group of residents whose homes survived the inferno have also created an informal committee to band together and support those less fortunate.
In the coming weeks Echo News will feature a Tales from Tilden series with inspiring stories of survival and hope in support of the community’s efforts towards recovery. See pages 5 and 11 for more.