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Samantha and Josh Yeates (pictured) were happy to offer up their empty rental house for free to bushfire victims Jessica Blackwell and her son Blake.

Providing shelter after the storm

By Melissa Sheil

AS more than 80 homes burnt to the ground in last week’s devastating Wooroloo bushfires,  many were asking the same question, where will the inhabitants of these homes live?

Fortunately, generosity is plentiful in Perth, with several groups, businesses and individuals banding together to ensure no one is left out in the cold.

Ashleigh Birch is an admin for the 2021 Perth Hills Bushfire Relief group on Facebook and is helping pass on housing information to those who need it.

“We could see there were a huge amount of people offering up spare rooms and houses on Facebook but it was disorganised and just wasn’t making its way to the right people,” she said.

“We set up the page in neat categories so if someone desperately needs a place to stay, they can click on the accommodation section and see all the offers directly.

“Lots of friends and family of the victims are the ones doing the looking for them so I’m tagging them in things so they don’t miss an offer they might need for their loved ones.

“I’ve only been getting two to three hours sleep each night because I don’t want to miss anyone, but I know if I can help as least one person then I’ve done my job.”

The group has had almost 100 offers of accommodation from people spread all across Perth, with several taken up already.

One such person who has been helped is Jessica Blackwell, whose Gidgegannup house was lost in the fire and has since been staying in a rental property of Samantha and Josh Yeates in Morangup.

“When I found out last Tuesday about my house burning down, the first thing that crossed my mind was ‘oh god where are we going to go’,” she said.

“I don’t have any family near Gidgegannup and my place of work is here.

“When I read Sam’s offer to put us up in her old rental house, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude.

“So much stress was suddenly alleviated, as I can provide my seven-year-old son with some stability for a while.

“I’m forever indebted to Josh and Sam.”

Ms Yeates says she felt “beyond useless” when the extent of the fire was realised.

“I just wanted to make things better for all of these people who have lost so, so much,” she said.

“Knowing I had a second house sitting there empty, I couldn’t bear the thought of not offering it.

“Jess is only one of 80 plus families that have been left homeless, but I feel at least I have done my small bit in making life just a tiny bit easier for her and her son Blake, by them having a stable, safe home to live in, close to their community, while they rebuild their lives.”

Applications for Minderoo Foundation bushfire initiative ‘recovery pods’ are also coming in by the hour says communications manager Kate Powl.

“This is an evolving situation so we can’t say exact figures but we are receiving a good few applications,” she said.

“The pods are self-contained structures that are installed on burnt out properties temporarily, so that owners can stay home whilst their houses are rebuilt.”

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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