A WEST Cork man has been central in the campaign to help drought-stricken Australian farmers.
Seamus Hickey, from the Ballydehob area, now lives with his family in Sydney. He’s been a key figure in a rescue operation called ‘Water Run’ which in recent weeks came to the aid of farmers in the Armidale, NSW, region.
Seamus explains: ‘The Water Run was the brainchild of an Irish contractor watching the news with his family. A news reporter was interviewing a farmer regarding the drought and the farmer started crying. The contractor decided to do something about it and spoke to another contractor who in turn contacted talk back radio.
‘Following this radio interview the Irish community rallied and within 10 days amassed nearly 100 vehicles and the rest is history. My contribution in terms of water was minimal but every drop counted.’
Water which was collected was distributed to villages in dire need as well as to firefighters on the fire frontline, said Seamus.
‘When we arrived in Armidale, we were greeted by locals who also prepared a barbecue for us. We mingled among the appreciative locals and then proceeded to offload our cargo.
‘Even though I was carrying 2000 litres of drinking water in approved food grade tanks, the local council decided that it was more valuable for fighting fires, therefore the water was tipped into a dam used by Rural Fire Services. This dam services the entire New England region. To put it into perspective, the water tipped into the dam allowed for only an additional five days of firefighting before the dam runs dry.’
Stricken areas have experienced rain, which has alleviated the situation somewhat. See ‘helping the farmers’ on Facebook for more information.