Three months later I was in a salvos store looking to buy some shirts for work. The lady behind the counter must have noticed something about me and had begun to gently pry. Those weeks and months were a strange time when those of us who'd lost could see our loss mirrored in other survivor's eyes. No words were needed. It was a grim camaraderie and one I guess that lady had learnt to identify.
I didn't want to talk to her. I just wanted some cheap shirts but she kept me in the store with aimless conversation interspersed with fruitless searches out back for much better 'non-existent' shirts.
I didn't know it but she had made a phone call and was buying time for help to arrive. Help did arrive in the form of Major Richard Price and it was in that little Salvation Army shop's back office that I was finally given the kind of support I needed to confront the enormity of what had happened. It was raw and extremely difficult but the road to recovery had begun and it had started months after my home had burned down.
After that watershed moment, I received ongoing assistance from both the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Working alongside many other smaller relief organisations, they were all instrumental in financial and material support as well as helping me begin this social enterprise. I couldn't have done it without any of them and I still found myself leaning on them years down the track.
My point is that recovery does not happen overnight. It will take years for those who have lost or are yet to lose everything in the future. Our emergency relief organisations will be on the front lines long before our governments react and they will still be on the front lines long after all of the attention has moved on to the next disaster...
And they will be there too.