News State NSW News Blue Mountains families arrive at evacuation centre armed with treasured items

Blue Mountains families arrive at evacuation centre armed with treasured items

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Forget photo albums, it is hard drives that are the must-grab household item in the bushfire emergency in the Blue Mountains.

Residents from along the Dividing Range arrived at the evacuation centre at North Richmond Community Hall this morning, armed with their most cherished items.

Bicycles, trail bikes and even a garden bench could be seen tied to the tops of vehicles as families left their homes behind amid the threat of unpredictable weather and extreme fire danger this afternoon.

The evacuation centre has had 75 people officially register as having left their home since midnight last night and the Animal Welfare League has registered more than 100 dogs and cats.

Family and Community Services workers are officially recording those who have left properties to help police identify missing people should the need arise later on.

Most of the people at North Richmond today were mothers and children who spoke of leaving husbands and fathers behind to defend the family home.

Many arrived with pets in tow and cars packed to the brim with historic photo albums – but also hard drives and notebook computers loaded with photos and documents.

All had heeded warnings to leave early but centre organisers fear a late rush this afternoon from those who leave it a little too late to depart their houses.

Evacuation centre organiser Graeme Devilliers says Family and Community Services staff are on hand to help people with emergency housing and any other needs.

“We’re starting to see people trickle in,” he said.

“Naturally people are very concerned.”

Outside, an insurance company has set up a tent to help residents process claims.

Chaplains have been walking around counselling distressed people.

Danielle Galea of Bowen Mountain, was at the centre with her children – one-year-old Sophie and three-year-old Joel.

She left home with photos, a phone and some toys for her children.

“Our safety was the main priority,” she said.

Nicole Jane, of Kurrajong Heights, registered her presence at the centre along with children Georgia, four, and Byron, seven.

Her most precious possession – her husband – is still at home.

“My husband’s staying up there to defend our home. I’m hoping nothing happens,” she said.

“If he just puts out spot fires that’s all good.”