JustGiving page for former Suffolk family left homeless after Portugal home devastated in forest fire
PUBLISHED: 17:59 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:05 23 June 2017
A young family-of-five who moved to Portugal from Suffolk almost a decade ago have been left homeless after the country’s deadliest natural disaster in decades.
A JustGiving fundraising page has been set up for the Green family, who previously lived in the Halesworth.
Parents Nigel, 53, and Julie, 50, along with children Emma, in her early 20s, George, 19, and Jack, 11, are currently staying with friends after being safely evacuated from the Pedrogao Grande area, one of the worst-hit areas of the forest fires that has killed 64 people.
Their story has been shared by another former Suffolk family, who knew the Green family, who also moved to Portugal five years ago.
Ann David, 65, and Tim David, 66, also from the Halesworth area, have established the JustGiving page, which has raised almost £1,000.
Mrs David, who taught the Green children at primary school, wrote: “Everybody will have heard about the fires which have been raging in Central Portugal for the past week. This is something which happens every year but the scale of the fires this year is unprecedented.
“I will not go in to detail as you will probably have seen pictures on the national news, but I will say that the news is not exaggerating. So many people have lost their homes and livelihoods. The local people are kind and generous, as are the foreigners living here. The national relief operation is huge. I do not know yet what help people will be getting from central funds.
“My husband and I retired to the region five years ago and are lucky not to have been affected by the fires so far.
“We have friends who live in the centre of the worst hit area, Pedrogao Grande. I know them as I taught their older son George at Bramfield Primary school. Their children Emma and Jack attended Edgar Sewter Primary in Halesworth and Emma and George went on to Bungay High School.
“Firstly I have to say that they are safe. They were evacuated and are currently staying with friends. They have been back to their home and their property has been devastated by the fires. It is not yet safe to stay there as the fire has revisited their land seven times.
“They moved to Portugal nine years ago to live a sustainable life. They have integrated into the community. They have worked extremely hard at building a life which considerate to the planet. The whole family has worked so physically hard only to see their labours go up in smoke. This family lives frugally, helping their neighbours and definitely not craving the luxuries many of us have.
“There are so many worthy causes and we are trying to share our resources where we can. I have set up a Just Giving page on Facebook to help them begin to rebuild whilst they wait to see what other help they will get. Any donations will be so gratefully received.
“I had messages from the family today and they are already overwhelmed by the care being shown to them. George said he wished he could wake up and find that the nightmare was over.
“Julie says ‘we have just been to our land and i was devastated but still happy to have the main house standing , then as we left another fire started and it went straight to our land for the 6th time !!!this time i am pretty sure it took whatever was left .... it just never stops .’”
Meanwhile, official reports into Portugal’s deadliest natural disaster in decades have described freak conditions that drove the wildfire that killed 64 people.
Portuguese authorities said they have contained a second fire that raged for five days close by.
More than 2,000 firefighters and some two dozen water-dropping aircraft fought the two fires for days and nights amid strong winds and temperatures above 40C (104F) as the country’s annual wildfire season started earlier than usual.
Traditionally, emergency services gear up for major fires from July 1.
Several official investigations are assessing the disaster response, including why 47 of the deaths on Saturday night occurred on a country road as people fleeing the flames in their cars were engulfed by the blaze.