The moment that haunts woman weeks after she lost everything in bushfire

A woman still haunted by a devastating New Years Eve bushfire has recalled her panicked escape as she was chased by flames.

A dozen twisted, charred wreckages of houses and shops line the entrance to the tiny town of Mogo on the NSW south coast.

Averill Berryman looks out over the blackened remains of her twin businesses, reduced to rubble in the fire that roared through.

Her real estate office and dog grooming salon only opened in August after she spent months fitting them out.

Averill Berryman looking at the remains of her real estate and dog grooming businesses in Mogo. Source: AAP

More than two weeks after the blaze, it's only the second time she has been back.

"It does break your heart," Ms Berryman told AAP.

After receiving an emergency message to evacuate on December 31, Ms Berryman had just 10 minutes to gather her computer and clippers.

"There are so many other things I wish I'd grabbed but in a hurry it's really hard to work out what you should take or what you should leave," she said.

The close escape that followed still haunts her.

"It's actually really hard to get it out of your head, a fire chasing you up the road. The trauma really sets in and bites hard,” she said.

"I put blood, sweat and tears into that and now it's just a pile of tin."

Alongside her shops are the scorched ruins of a bookshop, a leather retailer and tearooms.

Across the road, the town's beloved pottery store was completely destroyed.

Over at the Boomerang Meeting Place, longtime Mogo local Maryanne Nye is in charge of donations.

The centre is full of clothes, food and camping gear.

Bushfires swept through Mogo on New Years Eve 2019, destroying several homes and businesses. Source: AAP Image/James Gourley

With many homes still without power, some people are only coming through for the first time.

"They've got a long way to go, a very long way to go," Ms Nye said.

Phil Mayberry and Gayle Smith count themselves among the lucky ones.

Their timber house and garden nursery on Mogo's main street are still standing.

So too are two-thirds of the town's small businesses, including jewellers and craft stores and cafes.

These shop owners are desperate for people to know the town is still open for business.

But for Mr Mayberry, who has lived in the town for nearly 40 years, the New Year's Eve inferno is still raw.

"Even though we got off very lightly, the trauma is still there," he told AAP.

"We really feel for the ones that have lost everything, both residentially and business-wise.

People in affected areas have hung makeshift banners offering thanks to firefighters. Source: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

"We're a bit traumatised, but people who have lost everything, it's hard to imagine their state of mind and how they're going to move forward. But there's plenty of support out there for them."

Some of Mogo's 300-odd residents have decided to pack up and leave after the fires, but others are determined to stay.

Ms Berryman plans to put up a site shed or shipping container as a short-term fix while others plot market stalls.

"I don't want to leave Mogo – it's a really good community – we all really get along," Ms Berryman told AAP.

"It would be great to see the community rebuild and be able to come back again."

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