Bushfire victims find some festive cheer

They are a family used to giving to others but since the Moores lost their home in the October bushfires, people have been giving back.

Joe Moore has been overwhelmed by what he says is ''almost too much generosity".

''There's a lot of goodwill, a lot of good to come out of this," he said. "It puts a smile on your face and gives you a warm feeling for Christmas.''

Joe and his wife Chereyl raised three sons and were bringing up four foster children, aged six to 11, in their ''castle'' on Heather Glen Road, Winmalee.

Little is left but a concrete slab. Only a handful of houses are still standing on their street where, two months later, blackened trees are wreathed with new green leaves and excavators are clearing rubble.

A neighbour put up the family until they found somewhere to rent. People gave them furniture, others helped them move in.

The children were coping well, Mr Moore said. ''They are pretty resilient, and the fact that the community has supported us so much [makes it easier].''

Festive cheer is hard to muster when everything you own has been turned to ashes. Without family photographs, the walls of their temporary home are bare.

The Christmas tree and the presents underneath it have been donated. However, the Moores have put up decorations; a banner on the balcony wishes those who pass by a Merry Christmas.

''We're all together, so that's the main thing,'' Mrs Moore said.

This time of year is usually a double celebration for Mr Moore, Springwood Country Club's golf pro, and his twin, Mick, who were born on Christmas Day.

''This is the first year we will be out of our comfort zone,'' he said.

''It won't be the same but it will be OK. The joy of Christmas is in the kids.

''The kids will open up their presents and it will be like normal.''

What to do next is the family's biggest worry. Their short-term lease is almost up and the added expense of rebuilding in the ''flame zone'', in line with strict safety standards introduced after the 2009 Black Saturday disaster in Victoria, makes the Moores, and others, wonder if they can afford to build again on their old blocks.

The fires destroyed 206 homes. While all lived through the same devastation, each family is feeling the loss in its own way.

Burnt-out blocks should be cleared by the end of January, but the recovery effort was ''about healing people as much as repairing property'', Blue Mountains City Council mayor Mark Greenhill said.

Beyond Blue staff will help support residents next year, with charities and welfare organisations that have been there from the start.

Bushfire recovery co-ordinator Phil Koperberg said morale was as good as could be expected but some people found Christmas difficult at the best of times.

''We want them to know that the whole recovery effort is not going away on holidays,'' he said. ''We're not knocking off and enjoying our Christmases. We're there for them.''

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