Peter Cormick from Deua River Valley, NSW
In the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires, more than 17 million hectares of land was burned, 33 people were killed, and 3,094 homes were lost.
Peter and Anne Cormick from the Deua River Valley in NSW were one of those couples who devastatingly lost their family home.
On New Year’s Eve, the fires started to severely hit the area, and over the next three weeks the couple had to evacuate their property five times. But on Wednesday 22 January they were optimistic – rain had finally come and the temperature dropped, persuading Peter to unhitch the trailer and unpack their bags.
“The fire had jumped the containment line with great ease across Larry’s Mountain Road and was tearing towards our place,”
But on Thursday 23 January, when they were hit with a strong wind at around 10.30 am, running at about 100km/h by 12:30pm, they were re-packing to evacuate once again. They escaped just after 1pm.
“The fire had jumped the containment line with great ease across Larry’s Mountain Road and was tearing towards our place,” explains Peter.
“Anne was feeling the heat from the fire, and it was chasing us as we drove away, into town. It was a monster fire storm.”
On Friday, the couple found out every single structure on their property had been destroyed – except for their 92,000L Pioneer Water Tank.
When the area was eventually cleared, it took 60 semi-tippers to clean up the rural property of destroyed structures and burnt vehicles. The only thing that wasn’t removed was the tank, which had been on the property for at least 15 years.
When Peter and Anne discovered this structure had survived the inferno, they were astounded .
“You come back to a place where, just two nights before, you were sleeping and walking around and sitting down at the kitchen table, and all of that was just utterly destroyed.
“Initially we just didn’t want to come back here – each summer was getting more and more difficult to deal with. You’re living in constant anxiety of the fires impacting upon you, and this escape was the straw that broke our back.
“For a few weeks we were looking to buying elsewhere, just to live like ‘normal’ people. But we decided we love the bush too much, even though it’s going to take a while for it to come back.”
Just a few days after losing their home, Peter and Anne fortuitously met retired Air Commodore John Oddie at the recovery centre in Bateman’s Bay, who was helping people re-establish themselves. He’s well-known for leading the Australian response to the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.
“Through John we ended up engaging with a company by the name of Stack Space, which produces container houses in a grand-design style; and that’s what we’re putting on the property now.”
In late April 2020, Peter reached out to Pioneer Water Tanks for assistance. He was after an additional Pioneer Water Tank to be built alongside his existing one, ideally at a reduced price.
Pioneer Water Tanks were quick to get involved in the provision of water storage tanks for homes to be re-built in the fire devastated areas.
The Pioneer team, alongside Dealer Direct Network® member Aquaflo Irrigation, worked with Peter to install a GT130 (130,000L) on his property.
Unfortunately, the fire didn’t leave the existing tank completely unscathed – a small part of the Aqualiner FRESH® tank liner had been impacted by the fire, allowing water to escape.
This damage occurred in a section above the water line, near the top, because of a burning tree just a few metres from it. Peter said that had it been filled to the top, there would have been no damage.
When the new tank was installed in late July this year, installation team leader Jacob discovered exactly what the problem was. He’ll be coming back to the property soon to fix this up and ensure the existing tank continues to provide safe, fresh water for years to come.
“Jacob was tremendous. He’s a remarkable young fella – he’s only 20, and I’ve seen a lot of tradies over the years, and he really is quite a talented fellow,” says Peter.
“He was able to organise the team very well and I was mighty impressed with his managerial skills.
“I’m extremely happy with the team. Monika’s been fantastic – she’s very upbeat, a helpful and positive person. Michael is also a really nice fella.
“The Perth rep Nigel was also great – he got the project moving and helped with the benefits we were eligible to obtain, which we were very grateful for.”
Pioneer Water Tanks is proud to have helped Peter and Anne move back to their home in the Deua River Valley after the devastating bushfires.
We’re excited to know that the finished product of their new home, will be one fabricated with re-designed shipping containers, which will meet the necessary bushfire building standards.
The couple now have two water tanks, making a combined water storage capacity of 220,000L, with fire safety applications for future hot seasons.