Around 180-190 people and their pets took refuge at Club Taree after evacuating or self-evacuating from their homes in threat from bushfire on Saturday night, October 26.
"A large number of them slept here, and we did a lot of meals and lots of cups of coffee, and hundreds of bottles of water - just trying to give people some peace and calm where we could," Club Taree CEO, Morgan Stewart said.
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) officially activated Club Taree as an evacuation centre at 8.30pm on Saturday.
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Mr Stewart said he had been aware that might be the case beforehand, and that people had started turning up in the afternoon, before the evacuation centre was activated.
"We've been an emergency site previously in years in years gone by, and people know who we are and what we do in the community, so I think people gravitate to us as well, and we're pretty pleased about that," Mr Stewart said.
The Club handed over the use of all of its meeting rooms and the kitchen to FACS and the other services helping out evacuees - the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Chaplaincy Service.
A large number of them slept here, and we did a lot of meals and lots of cups of coffee, and hundreds of bottles of water - just trying to give people some peace and calm where we could.Morgan Stewart, CEO Club Taree
Police were also on hand for 24 hours at the Club to direct traffic, advise people on road closures and keep on an eye on the safety and security of people and their cars.
Bedding for around 50-75 was kindly donated for the night by the Samaritans' Taree Women's Refuge, however there were no mattresses.
"We've got pretty comfy carpet!" Mr Stewart laughed. "I'm ex army and I can tell you the carpets here are a lot softer than the ground!
"But it was one of the learnings we've picked up from this. In the future we need to have a bit of a stockpile in our own space of maybe 50 yoga mats or something of that nature."
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A lot of the people seeking safety were from Blackhead and Hallidays Point, with some passing through from Nabiac and the Darawank area who couldn't get to the evacuation centre at Tuncurry Bowling Club. Some were people who had come from Mount George, who were given emergency warnings that day for a fire approaching the village.
The evacuation centre was officially deactivated approximately lunchtime on Sunday.
"About 8-8.30am they opened up a lot of the roads again out to Blackhead so everybody naturally took off to see what was going on," Mr Stewart said.
"We were pleased to be able to provide some help to people that really needed it. We think that's our duty in the community and we were happy to do it."
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