Wee Waa’s Robinson family has issued a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to their home town for community support which has seen them recover after a disastrous fire destroyed their Mitchell Street home last year.
It is almost one year since the fire, and while it is a sad anniversary, the family is nowadays settled happily in a new home and looking forward to the future in Wee Waa, their home town.
It was January 22, 2020, when the Robinson family’s Wee Waa home was destroyed by the fire.
To have a home taken away is to not only lose the framework and comfort of its shelter and proximity but to lose its irreplaceable treasures of photographs, heirlooms and tokens, in which families hold dear, is a real tragedy.
The Wee Waa Fire and Rescue squad and Rural Fire Service tried to save the house, but sadly it was lost and later demolished.
As the calendar moves close to a year since the harrowing ordeal, the family has had a remarkable recovery, settling into a new home on the same block of land.
Cherie Allen, the mother of Tea, Tallen and Tuxton Robinson and wife of Shane Robinson, has expressed heartfelt gratitude to the community for helping the family over the last 12 months.
“It will be a sad day on the anniversary, but we’ll celebrate it as an achievement for how far we have come,” Ms Allen said.
“We can’t thank the Wee Waa community enough for what they have done.
“We’re not originally from here so to have everyone rally behind us, it’s a credit to the town and the people who live here.
“This is our hometown, and we could never see us living anywhere else.
“My outlook is I’ve got my kids who I could have lost, and we hold them very close.”
Eleven-year-old Tea was hailed a hero for saving her then one-year-old brother Tuxton from the fire.
Sounds of a smoke alarm woke Tea in the early hours of January 22. Smelling smoke, Tea remained calm and headed for Tuxton’s room, which was the first to catch alight.
She managed to get Tuxton and herself out to safety, showing immense bravery, remembering the fire safety plan skills she had learnt at school and from her parents.
“She rang me at about five to six in the morning in hysterics that the house was on fire, and that the fire brigade was on their way,” Ms Allen said.
“She was with the neighbours, and everyone was safe.
“I launched into calling Shane, who was at Maules Creek, and my daughter and Nan and Pop who live down the road.
“Without thinking, Tea just jumped into saving her brother’s life. She is our hero.
“By the time the fire crews arrived, the dwelling was well alight, and they were unable to save it.”
Both Tea and Tuxton were in good health following the ordeal.
The family moved into accommodation nearby and were covered by insurance on the house.
During the past few months, the new house has been transported from Tamworth as the family watched on.
The astonishing transformation has been completed and the family now looks to the future in their new home.
“We wanted to have it on the same block as part of our healing, and we didn’t want it to be a vacant block,” Ms Allen said.
“It’s been a very fulfilling part of it and has brought Shane and me great closure.
“Everything we own is the community’s, and we’ll always keep that. As a family, we decided to do that out of respect for what the community did for us.
“The support was amazing.
“We were away for a couple of days and when we returned our new accommodation at the time had been organised, and the community had put everything in place for us to live nearby.
“We received lots of phone calls, messages, people showing up with food and other items. The kids think it’s gold and they treat it that way.
“Eventually once COVID subsides, we want to hold a thank you event and give back to the community that helped us out enormously.”
Ms Allen also wanted to remind people about fire safety and to never be complacent.
“Have your smoke alarms working and teach your kids about fire safety and skills, as you just never know,” Ms Allen said.
“I will always be grateful to have my kids. I also found the last Christmas photo of all of us together, and that was the only photo we could salvage.
“We’re so excited to be in a new home. It’s a magnificent community to live in, and we’re proud to be from Wee Waa.”
Tea recently penned a heartfelt thank you to the Wee Waa community and wrote her own account of the day.
“To the community of Wee Waa,” it reads.
It’s been 11 months since the day I was awoken by the sound of smoke alarms going off and the smell of smoke.
I am not sure what happened after that but I do know that I got my brother and me out of our house.
I soon realised that our house was on fire and there were people everywhere including sirens.
At the time, my brother and me were home on our own as my sister had taken her boyfriend to work.
Mum was with my older brother on the Central Coast and my Dad was at work.
I phoned Mum to break the news to her that our house was on fire to which I know I cried and then became scared.
My Mum rang my sister who had arrived back to my brother and me in the back of an ambulance and soon after my Nan and Pop arrived and as soon as Dad could, he arrived.
There was nothing the fire brigade could do to save our home but they did try.
After that, things were a blur as so many people dropped things off to us and helped Mum and Dad organise the essential items for us.
Thanks to Jo from JMW, she straight away organised a home for us.
I am lucky to live in a town that just wanted to help us and for everything that was given to us.
For now my fears are getting better but I still look for smoke detectors wherever I go and will not stay where there isn’t any.
I still have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Mum and Dad call me their hero but I don’t like this as I’m just me.
We have moved into our new home back on the same block 11 months on and even though this scares me I know one day, that terrible day, will only be a memory.
Mum says time heals.
We are a strong family and I am pleased I live in a town like Wee Waa.
A big thank you to the fire brigade and our neighbours who attempted to save the house and making sure we were safe.
Thank you, Wee Waa.
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