Gallacher thanks fire and storm volunteersBy Catherine Clifford, Thursday January 17, 2013 - 09:30 EDT
Emergency Services and Police Minister, Mike Gallacher, is visiting fire and storm devastated parts of the region on Tuesday.
He's meeting Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers at Coonabarabran, where a blaze has destroyed dozens of homes and more than 40,000Ha.
He'll also stop to thank crews who worked after the wild storms cut a swathe through Tamworth, Walgett, Curlewis and Gunnedah.
The Minister is meeting privately with the widow and family of Tamworth highway patrol officer, Senior Constable David Rixon, who was shot dead in March last year.
Minister Gallacher says he continues to be amazed at the strength of regional communities during times of adversity.
"This time last year were were thanking our SES personnel who were walking away from their lives, their jobs, their own responsibilities in relation to the floods that we had through this very part of NSW," he said.
"Now, of course, it's no longer floods; this time it's a flood of fire with a different uniform, but the same spirit and the same indebtedness of the community to these volunteers."
Mike Gallacher says he's hoping to lift the spirits of volunteers, who've given so much in recent days.
"Well, I've got to say the shoulders are a bit down, particularly with the loss of so many homes, so much property in that Coonabarabran area," he said.
"People in this Emergency Service space recognise that the fire's not finished yet and the people up there, they know it, but, of course, in other parts of the state, where cooler weather and southerly winds are now pushing through, people feel that the risk is over. It's not."
© ABC 2013
More breaking news
Cyclone Debbie strengthens to cat 2 on way to probable cat 4 as it continues towards Queensland coast
A cyclone off northern Queensland has intensified to a category two and could reach category four by the time it crosses the coast somewhere between Cardwell and Bowen, near Townsville, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned.
The Bureau of Meteorology has off the coast of Queensland.
Tropical Cyclone Debbie is strengthening quickly on its journey to make landfall, likely between Lucinda and Proserpine on Monday or Tuesday.