WHAT A RELIEF: Jason Rogers and his daughter Natalie Rogers are able to continue their relief efforts in Stanthorpe thanks to cabin donated by Top of the Town.
WHAT A RELIEF: Jason Rogers and his daughter Natalie Rogers are able to continue their relief efforts in Stanthorpe thanks to cabin donated by Top of the Town. Jason Rogers

'I didn't do it to be a hero': Humble man fights back tears

A "SIMPLE country bloke, without a cent to his name" is driving door to door across the fire-affected regions of the Southern Downs, providing relief to residents in their darkest hour.

He has seen houses burned to cinders, property lines destroyed and people who have lost everything.

But what he has also seen is the strength of the Southern Downs' spirit in the face of frightening adversity.

The Warwick man, Jason Rogers, struggled to hold back tears as he revealed the emotional toll of the last couple of days.

"You see so much that's been burned down," Mr Rogers said.

"I'm a fairly tough sort of bloke and I don't let things get to me, but this is just overwhelming."

Mr Rogers described one elderly couple, who had recently moved all their furniture to their shed in preparation for housing renovations.

"The shed took fire," he said.

"Everything was gone."

No one could help that couple recover their belongings but Mr Rogers did what he could to make sure they didn't feel forgotten.

"I know what it's like for farmers out there fighting for themselves and I know it's very easy to be overlooked.

"I've been back there twice now with food packs and the second time she saw us open the door she broke down in tears," he said.

"She gave me a big hug and she said ... she said ..."

Mr Rogers drew a big, shaky breath.

"Superheroes don't need to wear capes."

"I didn't do this to be a hero, I did it because I'm a bushie and that's just how you do things."

 

WELCOME RELIEF: Firefighters refuel after a hard slog at Stanthorpe with a meal cooked by Jason Rogers.
WELCOME RELIEF: Firefighters refuel after a hard slog at Stanthorpe with a meal cooked by Jason Rogers. Jason Rogers

The relief efforts began as a modest meal for Ergon Energy workers on Saturday evening, as a small thanks for their efforts.

"I thought I'd come down and cook for 10 or 15 people then come home Sunday night but I'm still here," Mr Rogers said.

With the help of local businesses, such as Warwick Bunnings, the Rodeo societies, Wickhams and IGA, an impromptu group of volunteers co-ordinated hundreds of meal packs to be distributed door to door.

Mr Rogers said he was shocked by the kindness and generosity of strangers, as they rallied behind him to ensure every member of their community survived.

That same selflessness is reflected by farmers who refuse their packs and urge Mr Rogers to give them to someone "more in need".

"Lots of people from the bush think of others more than they think of themselves," Mr Rogers said.

"But then I'd look around and see everything they have has just been burned and I know there's no other option for the poor buggers.

"It's gotten to the stage where I just leave the food on their doorstep, so they don't have a choice."

Mayor Tracy Dobie said the shared struggles of drought had created a community where everyone looked out for each other.

"Everybody feels very close to their neighbours, here," Cr Dobie said.

"Everybody is aware of each other in this region because we've been badly impacted by drought and that's why the responses were so quick.

"The efforts of so many people, from so many walks of life, have been absolutely incredible."

The Southern Downs Regional Council is establishing a relief fund for bushfire victims that will become available in the coming days.

Mr Rogers encourages anyone who wishes to contribute to the cause to contact council on 1300 697 372


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