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Agent mobilised community to help bushfire victims

14 January 2020 Lyall Russell
community help bushfire victims

Bushfires have ravaged more than 200,000 hectares on Kangaroo Island, and the destruction motivated a family to do what they could to help.

Over the new year, Chris Janzon was on holiday with his family on Kangaroo Island, where they set up camp at Penneshaw.

As the fire grew, it did not take long until more people gathered at the campground as they were relocated from the west of the island.

It was the first time the Harcourts Sergeant director had been there, and what was meant to be a joyous occasion left him feeling helpless.

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“There was more we needed to do, and could be doing,” Mr Janzon told Real Estate Business.

Instead of eating the food they packed with them, they decided to eat out at restaurants to support local businesses.

As the family started their journey home on 4 January, they felt empty and wanted to do more to help.

After a sleepless night, Mr Janzon and his wife Melissa decided the community needed more than just cash; they lacked resources.

He decided to launch an appeal, and he asked the community to bring supplies to the Harcourts office. He planned to drive his Land Cruiser with a trailer to the island to drop off the supplies.

The community not only listened but also they responded.

“By the close of business on Monday, we realised the trailer and Land Cruiser wasn’t going to be enough,” he said. “We literally filled a whole room with stuff on the first day.”

People from within Harcourts, local business owners, mums and dads, and even kids got involved by dropping things off at the office.

Since the Land Cruiser was not going to do the job, Mr Janzon hired a three-tonne truck to fill and make the journey.

Before he set off with his wife and daughter, the team at Harcourts Sergeant spent time itemising everything so that when it came time to drop off, they could easily be found in the truck.

Although the ferry was only taking emergency staff across to the island, fortunately, Mr Janzon had a good contact at SeaLink who sponsored his return journey.

“We had four semi-trucks on the ferry, alongside our three-tonner.”

When they got off the ferry, the main highway across the island was closed, so he followed the other trucks as they made their way to Kingscote.

“First, we went to the relief centres, and then we went to Island Care,” he said. “We got there, and there were three people there. We told them we have three tonnes of supplies and we will start looking through it for what you need.”

Shortly after they arrived, one of the ladies got a call. When she got off the phone, she told Mr Janzon they would need all of their supplies as they are going to be the island’s central collection point.

Mr Janzon, his wife and daughter spent 14 hours on the road to get those supplies where they were needed, and it was not until they sat down that night they realised the gravity of what they achieved.

However, he knows that Kangaroo Island will need much more support, long after the media hype dies away.

“It’s all about rejuvenation and the aftermath,” he said.

As a result, the Janzon family plan to go back to the island for a week at Easter to support the local market.

“We will see what we didn’t get to see last time,” Mr Janzon said.

Agent mobilised community to help bushfire victims
Chris Janzon family reb
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