Stunning acts of kindness help family rise from the ashes
FIRE destroyed everything dear to couple Coral and Brad Krahe, but in its place grew a renewed love for the generous spirit of the Southern Downs community.
The recovery process has been agonisingly slow after the couple's tranquil country home, old but much-loved, was one of seven structures reduced to rubble as flames tore across the region.
Everything from Coral's grandmother's jewellery to her father's war memorabilia to her market stall supplies was "incinerated."
"I'm nearly 65 and everything I'd accumulated over all those years is just gone," Mrs Krahe said.
"I'm thankful we're still alive but coming to terms with everything that's missing is really hard."
Mrs Krahe's daughter Trudy Dodson collapsed into tears when the family returned to the blackened, cleared site of the home last week.
"She got very upset as she looked around at how different it was, with all the burned trees," Mrs Krahe said.
As Mrs Dodson wandered through the rubble she pulled out a cross necklace her mother had given her years ago, when she'd been worried about her safety.
"Trudy asked me if I'd managed to recovery any jewellery and when I said no, she handed it back to me," Mrs Krahe said.
"I got a bit emotional."
It has been an emotional few months for Mrs Krahe who has been constantly overwhelmed by the outpouring of warmth and love.
"We haven't been very social people, so it's been surprising," she said.
"Everyone I have met has been so thoughtful and it's really gotten us to the stage where people have been so generous they'd be making us cry all of the time."
Strangers stopped the couple to share their condolences, offered their homes as temporary shelter, and provided essential access to food and clothing.
Significant funds, donated from community groups and charities, bolstered the family's reconstruction funds, filling gaps left behind by insurance companies.
"People I don't even know donated and it just doesn't feel real," Mrs Krahe said.
"I had no idea people could be so generous.
"You know, some say people are nasty but I reckon those people have never been to Stanthorpe."
With the help of new-found friends and neighbours, the Krahe's hope to formally begin the reconstruction process today.
"We'll rebuild on the same block of land because I just love it up there," Mrs Krahe said.
"Realising what had happened and that all those little pleasures you'd had for years are gone … it has been very difficult.
"But we're coming to terms with it."