Farmers quick to help

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Farmers and rural communities were quick to the aid of one of the victims of the fires that recently devastated the South West of the State.

Pinjarra Rotary Club held a busy bee at Brad and Sue Riegert's Yarloop property on Monday, after the property's pastures and fences were wiped out in last week's devastating bushfires.

About 15 mostly local farmers pitched in and built about 3km of fences on the Riegerts' burnt-out cattle and hay farm.

In the aftermath of the fire, the Riegerts were restricted in moving livestock without external fences and the day's effort will help make the farm operational again.

Mr Reigert said he was caught by surprise last Thursday when the fire roared through their 100ha property at what seemed like lightning speed.

"As a precautionary measure, my wife and two kids left the property to stay at friends earlier on that afternoon," he said.

"But when the fires roared down from the hills towards the farm with the wind behind it, I realised nothing was going to stop it.

"My brother, nephew and my brother's son-in-law stuck around and with a lot of effort we at least were able to save the houses.

"I actually thought the house was on fire at one point, but realised when I got closer it was some power poles.

"So my heart was in my mouth for a moment."

The Reigerts said they were grateful for the support from the farming community.

"Having all these people come down and give up their time to help us get back on our feet has just been incredible," Mr Reigert said.

"The effort everyone has put in today has saved me a week's work on my own."

Pinjarra club treasurer and North Dandalup farmer Peter Gillett said his club decided to help farmers with a $20,000 donation.

"We have put $10,000 aside for animal welfare, which is supplying fodder, fencing or water where needed, and the balance has been put towards a mobile trauma counselling unit, which can't keep up with demand at present," he said.

Other Rotary clubs have also raised an additional $10,000.

Retired Broome pastoralist David Power was in Perth with his wife on holiday when they were asked if they would like to help.

"One of the people from the Pinjarra club mentioned they were recruiting helpers to come and lend a hand, so we decided to pitch in," he said.

"We were more than happy to come and lend a hand."

Meanwhile, WAFarmers president Dale Park said people may be unaware that money donated to some prominent appeals did not go directly to farmers.

More than $4 million has been donated to the Lord Mayor's Disaster Relief fund for the Esperance and Waroona-Harvey fires, but very little of the funds are obtainable by farmers running commercial businesses.

Mr Park said people wanting to help farmers were encouraged to donate funds, hay and pellets towards the WAFarmers Waroona-Harvey Fire Appeal to ensure that farmers received swift and targeted assistance as they rebuild their livelihoods.

The project has seen hundreds of tonnes of hay and pellets pledged towards the cause and more than $25,000 raised through cash donations.

"Farmers helping farmers was the premise behind the appeal," Mr Park said.

"Through this, 100 per cent of donated funds and hay will be distributed to farmers and their businesses in the fire-affected areas, unlike other prominent appeals, which may not go directly towards farmers," he said.

_TO HELP _

· *Rotary Farms Fire Appeal *

Rockingham Rotary Club (Charitable Trust)

BSB: 633-000 A/C: 142631100

· *WAFarmers Waroona-Harvey Fire Appeal *

http://www.wafarmers.org.au/ donate-waroona-harvey-fire-appeal/

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