Tag: Katie Zagami
A Victorian husband and wife and their four small children have been left with nothing except for a wedding dress after a bushfire destroyed their entire farm on the cusp of the New Year.
Matt and Katie Zagami’s house was one of 11 lost in Wairewa, a community of 87 that lies north-east of Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland.
The Zagamis did not take much with them when they made the decision to flee their home on December 30 — they left, nervous but optimistic, with just a couple of backpacks and the boots on their feet.
“We left here last Monday just after lunch thinking we’d come back to our house the next day and everything would be alright,” Mr Zagami said.
“But we found out earlier that morning that we’d lost our house and, more devastating, we’d lost everything.
“The house, sheds, farm … it burnt through everything.
“We looked at the house and went ‘we’ll see you tomorrow’ … we didn’t expect it to be this bad.”
The only thing not destroyed was Mrs Zagami’s wedding dress, which somehow survived in an old wooden bungalow in the backyard.
“It’s just bloody devastating … to have everything taken away in one hit,” Mr Zagami said.
“The farm is one thing, but we lost everything in the house — everything.
“All the kids’ stuff, every little keepsake we thought had, we’ve lost all that stuff.”
‘A sense of failure’
The couple initially planned to stay and defend the home, but the thought of their kids being orphaned compelled them to leave.
Nonetheless, the decision plagued them.
“We don’t fight much,” Mrs Zagami said.
“But there was a lot of silent treatment that night.
“There’s a whole sense of failure by not staying.
“You feel like a coward not hanging around.”
After seeing the destruction wrought by the flames, however, Mr Zagami said the doubts they had have been well and truly laid to rest.
“Life is just so much more valuable,” he said.
“You get real hugs when you go through this — people hug you really tightly, and you can feel it.
“It’s unexplainable the feeling you get when someone hugs you now after going through this.
“You feel very glad to be here.”
‘The show will roll on’
As well as sheds and machinery, the Zagamis lost most of their corn production blocks and green beans in the fire.
Such extensive losses, including their machinery and the infrastructure needed to plant and irrigate, mean it will take a long time before production can begin again in earnest.
Nonetheless, Mr Zagami is determined to get some vegetables back in the ground.
“A mate has offered to loan us his planter, so that’s a ripper,” he said.
“We’ll get into that so we will be planting again next week hopefully irrigating this week and the show will roll on.
“[We] hope that we can actually get the job done and get some stuff picked before the end of the season, but I think it’s going to be very difficult to pull it together in time for next season.
“We’ve had three years of really tough conditions and it’s taken us probably three years to get back to a position where we were geared to put some money in the bank and actually go a little bit better than what we have been.”
Rebuilding from the ruins
Mr Zagami said he and Katie will need to sit down to assess what happens next.
“I think we need to get settled again with our kids — we’ve got four little kids,” he said.
“We need to get them in a place where they are happy and comfortable so they can go and start the school year again and then try and rebuild.
“Every day we get reminders — every hour we get a reminder of what we lost and what we haven’t got anymore, and we have found it really hard to be here and look at it.”
He said there had been a constant stream of visitors and phone calls from friends and neighbours offering to help.
“[You get calls from] blokes you haven’t talked to for a long time, and they know it’s hard for you to talk,” he said.
“I think the people who rang me in those first few days didn’t get much talking — just a lot of tears.
“But they’ve all been helpful emotionally and with the farm, on both accounts.”