It would seem from all the television footage that most of Australia is alight, is one roaring furnace.
Even if this is not exactly so, one wind-fuelled and out of control bushfire is enough and there are far far too many wreaking havoc throughout Australia. The area that particularly concerns us personally is the Milton/Ulladulla/Lake Conjola area of New South Wales where our daughter Sara lives with her husband Derek and son Tom aged 15. (Sara Eastway nee Fuller-Sessions for those that don’t know!)
Six days ago I wrote my first post about the bushfires situation as it affected them and their community. They had escaped from their house just in time, for several days they didn’t know whether their house had burnt down or not. Things were bleak and very worrying.
Since then things have improved, for them, for the time being anyway. Many of their friends and neighbours, and hundreds in their area have lost their homes. One friend of theirs – whose husband is a firefighter – has lost everything. Sara and co were extremely lucky and cannot understand why their whole (25 acre) property could be burnt to a frazzle but the actual house left intact.
They moved back home a day or two ago. She says “The place is a mess but I keep looking around at everything and marvelling that it exists!” Sara said there are a lot of dazed and shocked people in town but the immediate threat has eased. There have been generous donations of food and equipment and offers of shelter for those left with nothing; apparently shops are stocking up again, garages have fuel and she has been at work since Monday (Jan 6th) all week.
They still have no electricity, but Derek has unearthed an old and rather small generator and they can now, with clever management, have a quick hot shower – rather important when there is so much ash and dirty debris in the air outside. They are cooking on a gas camping stove. ‘We are fine’ she says. They are now living the new ‘normal’. But of course, it may not be the end of the immediate story: apparently more bad weather is forecast for this Friday Jan 10th).
What can we do, from our damp and distant land? One feels pretty useless. John and I felt we would prefer to donate to a local fundraising effort rather than a national one and Sara is going to find out more. On a more personal note she tells us that they have run out of face masks which are rather essential but no longer to be had anywhere locally. I have tried to order some online, not quite knowing what I was looking for – and only after I’d managed to distinguish the ads for surgical ones from beauty aids (There seemed to be many more of those…)
Finally… on a far more serious, longterm note. Sara sent an article from the Milton and Ulladulla Times written by an Aboriginal elder who lost everything. (All the newspaper’s adverts are annoying, but do read the whole article.)
He reminds everyone that the fires aren’t the whole story: when they are put out it is by no means the end of the story. It should be the start.
“The world has to learn to look after what they’ve been given for their very existence.”