The evacuees walked down the quayside with the little they were allowed to take on board: hand luggage, pillows, teddy bears and even a sausage dog.
They’d been stuck in Mallacoota, in Victoria, since Sunday, without power or with the roads blocked. Now the Navy was giving them a way out.
It was a complex operation, suited to the military. Around 1,000 people signed up to leave. Two large boats, HMS Choules and MV Sycamore, waited for them in open water.
Image: People had been stuck in Mallacoota since Sunday
To get there, though, they had to take small boatloads. Amphibious craft called LARCS rolled out of the water and up the pier to collect people. Ferried to the big boats, evacuees were then set for a 20 hour voyage south to safety.
We left Mallacoota by boat and took some evacuees with us. They included a funk band who’d been scheduled to play New Year’s Eve there but who ended up fending off fires from the venue. They were more than happy to leave.
The feeling in the Mallacoota evacuation was relief. Other evacuations – 100,000 people are fleeing around Australia, the largest peacetime evacuation in the country’s history – are full of apprehension.
‘I can’t breathe’: Teen fights fire near home
People have watched what happened this week and they have decided to leave. We landed back in Lake’s Entrance, a seaside town inside the evacuation zone. Roads into it are shut. On Friday night, it was a ghost town, with even the fast food chains shut.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen tomorrow but conditions are already getting worse. Australia has a tough 48 hours ahead.
Source : Sky News