ABOVE: Valla RFS volunteer Frank Nunnari returns the lost pearls to the woman from Woodburn who thought they had been washed away in the floods. Photo: NSW RFS
For almost two weeks, Rural Fire Service crews have driven to flood areas to hose out mud from shops and houses.
Urbenville, Casino and Bonalbo RFS were in Coraki. Old Bonalbo RFS helped hose out houses in Woodburn.
Casino East, Mallanganee, Kyogle, Tomki and many others helped across the region, their crew names emblazoned on the fire trucks as they headed into disaster areas to help.
These volunteers worked for days and into weeks.
NSW RFS headquarters said crews from across the state came to the region to help with the clean-up.
Valla RFS volunteer Frank Nunnari was one of them and he was in Woodburn.
“Yesterday, we had to clean the inside of a house. Water was just over the doors,” Frank said.
“When we got there a woman was sitting in a chair with tears in her eyes when she saw us coming.
“We said – ‘We’re here to help, where do you want us to start?’
She asked us to keep an eye out for a “tiny bag with a set of pearls in it”.
The woman figured with the amount of water that came through, she would have to face the fact they were gone, Frank said.
As the Valla crew were cleaning the house, Frank spotted something stuck to the veranda floor.
“It was a little bag covered in mud with the pearls inside,” he said.
“I gave them to her and she started to cry, and so did l.”
RFS crews from outside the region were:
Armidale Dumaresq Shire
Coal and Candle
Great Mackerel Beach
Mid Coast Group
South West Slopes
Southern Border Team
Thank you for being here to help us.