‘All gone’: Mum jobless after fire destroys work
A SINGLE mum now out of a job after her workplace was destroyed in the country's bushfire crisis hopes for a fresh start on the Sunshine Coast.
Emma Loiterton was due to begin her shift at Club Malua, in Malua Bay, a small town near Bateman's Bay, at 8am on New Year's Day, when a phone call from her manager telling her to stay home revealed the true extent of danger they faced.
Ms Loiterton had been an employee of the club for almost five years when fires ravaging the NSW town turned their fury on the club, engulfing it and putting everyone out of work.
"My work was completely burnt down," she said.
Emma said the town struggled "enough" with unemployment before the bushfire, which not only destroyed homes, but businesses and livelihoods, putting a huge dent in the economy.
"Our busy time was summer.
"All of our tourists and visitors were told to leave on the days before the fires hit as it was so unsafe for them, they would have been stuck due to road closures.
"We had no power for six days, and some parts had no power for longer.
"Our phone reception was down for up to four to five days as well, and again some parts of the bay, longer.
"All the food was thrown out."
Having lived in Bateman's Bay since 2012, Emma said the town looked like it was in the middle of winter, with not a tourist in sight.
"There's no money coming into the town. (It's) going to take years to recover from this nightmare," she said.
Losing her means of income meant Emma was forced to relocate so she could continue providing for her two-year-old daughter, Holly.
She hopes the Sunshine Coast will be the place to settle and was excited "to just breathe fresh non-smokey air".
"I want to move this way because every time I come here it just feels like home," she said.
"I see my daughter growing up here happy, and meeting new people throughout her years, I want my family to be stable.
"I feel like this is the best start to find a job and a house in a beautiful location.
"It's made me feel so blessed and welcome to have so many people care and want to help me within the Sunshine Coast, it's beautiful.
"Even more reason why I want to be here."
A statement released by Cabra Bowls Group's chief executive officer Jay Porter said Club Malua has already begun the rebuild process, but Ms Loiterton said it probably won't be finished for at least two years.
"(This year) has not started well for our club, however, we will be back and better than ever," the statement said.
The club had recently undergone an $800,000 refurbishment and reopened in April 2018.