While the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and a number of other emergency service agencies have been at the frontline of fighting the bushfire crisis on the Mid North Coast, plenty of other organisations and individuals have been getting in and lending a hand.
On Tuesday, November 12, numerous members from the Surf Life Saving Lower North Coast Branch were stationed at a number of command posts across the region in order to provide emergency evacuation services to people facing bushfire threat near key waterways.
These command posts included the Manning River Rowing Club at Taree, Forster SLSC and Pacific Palms SLSC.
Branch president Brian Wilcox said despite the short notice, everyone involved in the operation responded fantastically.
"We were basically called in on Monday to get stuff ready for Tuesday," he said.
"The marvelous thing was not one person balked at what was asked of them."
Each command post was equipped with numerous inflatable rescue boats and at least one jet ski, as well as other vital equipment needed during an emergency rescue.
Other businesses and community members were also co-opted into the operation, including cruise boats the Amaroo, the Free Spirit and the Island Explorer, as well as professional fishermen from the Wallis Lake Fishermen's Co-op, whose services would've been required had any night rescues needed to be performed.
Mr Wilcox said with Tuesday's forecast for extremely hot and windy conditions, followed by a strong southerly change, many communities were considered at risk, with evacuation by water potentially the only real option for some.
This included places such as Wingham, Bohnock, Oxley Island, Coomba Park, Pacific Palms and various other localities around the Manning-Great Lakes.
"All these communities were pretty vulnerable on Tuesday," Mr Wilcox said.
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Luckily, despite the scale of the operation and the state of emergency in place, no evacuations needed to be performed.
"We didn't end up having to do anything, which was fantastic," Mr Wilcox said.
However, he said it was still a great experience for the organisation to know they could pull it off and count on the support of the community.
"I think it was fantastic, not only from our members but the whole community," he said.
"It was great for the community to be able to pull together and coordinate such a large-scale operation."
Mr Wilcox said the surf lifesaving organisation had a long history of working with the emergency services as a support agency, but that connection had become even stronger since the organisation was written into the emergency services act in the past 12 months.
Unfortunately, despite the positive outcome for the larger community and the fact no evacuations were performed, a number of the volunteers were still impacted by the bushfires on Tuesday.
Four lifesavers from Black Head SLSC were forced to spend the night at the Manning River Rowing Club after both The Lakes Way and the Pacific Highway were closed due to the Hillville fire.
However, Mr Wilcox said the members were prepared for this outcome.
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