For nearly four days, volunteer fire brigades in Eastern Southland battled to protect the region from the worst floods in 30 years.
The Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade worked for 42 hours straight from 3am Tuesday to 9.30pm on Wednesday last week.
The Mataura Volunteer Fire Brigade was activated at 5am on Wednesday and worked until 6pm on Saturday.
Gore required 40 members, three fire appliances, six portable pumps, two utes and a tanker.
Twelve Riversdale brigade members helped on Wednesday and provided additional resources.
Over the two days, the brigade received 48 calls leading to it pumping water within the suburbs, evacuating areas of Gore and assisting in dealing with medical events.
Chief Fire Officer Steve Lee, of Gore, said the flood banks made the difference.
”We’re very grateful that the flood banks withstood the ongoing pressure.”
Businesses provided extra resources and pumps to ensure the brigade continued its work, he said.
“The support from the business community was great, and the employers, who released a large number of people to get out and help their community.”
Mataura was different – members evacuated the entire town, dealt with road closures, ouvea premix at the paper mill and pumping at the meat works.
Chief Fire Officer Neil Rogan, of Mataura, said it was important the brigade supported the meat works.
“We put a lot of hours in there,” Mr Rogan said.
“We are fortunate to have a large pumping appliance which really helped and it was crucial we got them up and running.”
The 28 members slept at the Mataura Golf Club on Wednesday.
The hardest task was using a jet-boat to rescue a family from their home, he said.
Both officers were proud of the way brigade members operated.
Mr Lee described it as an “outstanding effort”.
“I’m very proud of the effort put in by the brigade and their wives and families. I think in times of adversity you see the very best in people.”
Mr Rogan said the event brought the brigade together.
“In times of adversity you really see people in organisations step up. I’m really proud of the members supporting each other and their families.
“If there was a silver lining it was seeing how the brigade knitted together after a huge job.”
The Gore station was used as a support centre for organisations to meet and be catered for.
The treatment they received would not have been possible without the brigade members’ families, Mr Lee said.
“The brigade wants to acknowledge the wives who manned the kitchen at the station so the members. were rested and well fed. We really appreciate all the work they put in.”
Mr Rogan agreed and said watching the Mataura community come together was humbling.
“Seeing the wider community unite, there were no boundaries. I think the whole community is going to be better off for coming together.”