Living in a bushfire environment is nothing new to me.
But I don't believe I have ever before felt so overwhelmed by a bushfire situation.
I'm not generally an anxious person, but I have to admit the current fires have me a little rattled.
I grew up in the beach community of Currarong in the Shoalhaven. Our home backed onto the bush. There were no fences, just a small lawned area and then bushland.
When a bushfire kicked off in that area you were often stranded with only one road leading out of the village. My Dad was the deputy fire captain so if there was a fire he would be on the frontline.
My Mum would be at home with myself and my two siblings. There was no such thing as mobile phones and our only water supply was from a tank (just the one if I remember correctly). No town water supply in those days.
We just lived in hope that all would be okay and Dad would come home safely.
The one instruction I remember to this day was that we were to let the birds out of the aviary if the fire came too close.
I have seen many bushfires pass through the Southern Highlands in recent times and each one serves up frightening levels of threat and destruction.
There is the one that decimated parts of Balmoral, Bargo, Yerrinbool, Pheasants Nest, Alpine and Aylmerton among other areas in October 2013.
Then there was the one that created havoc in those same areas as well as Hill Top, Colo Vale and Mittagong in January 2001.
There have been fires that have burned up the mountain through the National Park threatening Fitzroy Falls and Southern Villages such as Bundanoon, Exeter, Wingello and Tallong. There have also been blazes bearing down on Canyonleigh.
But the current bushfires seem different.
They are coming from the north and the south, the environment is tinder box dry and the winds are unpredictable.
No doubt it was the same in the past but I don't ever recall so many blazes burning all at once and all at such a ferocious level.
I live in a built up area, in suburbia, about 30km from the front of the Green Wattle Creek blaze and about 50kms from the northern edge of the Currowan fire which has now jumped the Shoalhaven River. I have family and friends on the South Coast in Nowra, Vincentia and Ulladulla who are also threatened by bushfires. I guess it is understandable that I feel concerned.
And then there is the access to updates and information like never before. The Fires Near Me App, Live Traffic, media reports, social media posts - information is on offer from all angles. It is great to be able to be so well informed about what is happening, but I have to admit that such abundant information has boosted my level of anxiety at times. Probably like most people, I am transfixed to it all at once - checking the apps on my phone, with the news on television in the background and my computer on my lap so I can follow social media.
I've had those moments of calm, almost selfishly reminding myself that "things should be fine in suburbia," but then my thoughts turn to those people living in bushland or on the edge, and those wonderful fire fighters and volunteers on the frontline. My anxiety ramps up again and I become terrified for them. I wish I could do more.
I convince myself that providing media updates is me doing my bit to keep the community informed and warned. Making donations where ever possible is another way to make a contribution. I make regular checks on those I know who are on the frontline or live in threatened areas, but I can't help feeling it is hardly enough when so many are doing so much more - putting their lives on the line so that we can all be safe.
I doubt I am the only one feeling like this.
It is a sad reality that those on the frontline are fighting an uphill battle to contain these fire beasts. But without their tireless efforts this horrific situation would no doubt be far worse, with many more casualties.
Meanwhile, the recent (in the past three days) discovery of embers on my front and back lawn has driven home the message to me that we are all caught up in this fire storm. The embers on my lawn have cooled by the time they hit the ground (for now) but if the fire front gets closer it could be a very different story. I look down my street and note that there is dead, dry grass on everyone's front lawn - that's fuel for ignition if the embers that drop continue to hold heat.
It was just the warning I needed to make sure I have lots of buckets of water around my home and I am now making regular checks to make sure none of those embers start to burn. I think we all need to be vigilant about this - it's the very least we can do. Our fire fighters already have their work cut out for them, they don't need to be tackling spot fires in suburbia as well.
Sadly I know the only real relief will come in the form of substantial rain. And I pray for it constantly.