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10 February 2009 @ 09:13 pm
Guys, I don't know what to say. I know you've probably seen all the news footage, and are as horrified as we here in Melbourne are. My previous post was so premature. There are 181 confirmed dead and over 50 unidentified bodies on top of that. To put this in perspective, until this weekend 470 people had died in fires in Australia since 1900. This deathtoll is like nothing we've seen before.

We know about fire in this country. We have fire plans. We have an unbelievably heroic volunteer fire force in the Country Fire Authority (many of whom will be traumatised for years to come by what they have seen). We have bushfires every year. Some of you will recall the fires a couple of years ago that burned for over a month. Even so, this event is unprecedented. So many homes lost, lives lost, livelihoods destroyed.

Like so many Australians, I have been glued to the news sites, TV and radio, listening, watching, trying to take it in.

Here's a recent summary, and a gallery of photos. For those of you who can stomach more, there are many more stories at the Herald Sun or The Age (newspaper) websites.

At work, we check the updates in our lunch hour and struggle to comprehend it together.

The Yarra Valley was about to host the annual Grape Grazing Festival--it has been called off, so many vineyards reduced to ashes.

The Healesville Sanctuary, a popular tourist attraction where native Australian animals are kept in natural conditions, was evacuated--the animals moved to city zoos. 10,000 native animals were not so lucky.

There are fire still burning, and there is a race against time to get them under control before the temperatures rise again. It's not over yet.

There are appeals on all the major TV networks, radio stations and through banks and supermarkets. The response so far has been incredible--I think everyone desperately wants to be able to do something to help.

This Friday, Coles supermakets will donate their day's profits to the bushfires, so we will be doing our monthly shop there.

I am collecting resources for the RSPCA, who put out an urgent call for blankets, bedding, cat and dog food and containers for animals to drink out of, as they are being overwhelmed with animals--pets, livestock and native animals--in desperate need of care.

For anyone that wants to help, here are some links:
- information on appeals
- The Red Cross Appeal
- more links to appeals
- a special 'Virtual Dog Show' fundraiser.
Current Location: sofa of disbelief
Current Mood: shockedshocked
a reason to fight: Privileged - Rose/Sageareasontofight on February 10th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC)
I really wanted to find some way to help, other than just giving money, but since I'm not from here I'm already living out of a suitcase and don't really have many clothes (though that seems so selfish to say), and being British apparantly means I can't donate blood in Australia.

We weren't sure what had happened at Healesville Sanctuary, given the threat today so I'm glad to hear the animals were evacutated okay.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Audrey Tautoubop_radar on February 10th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
I'm British (by birth) too and can't give blood either. There are times in our lives when we're not well placed to help others--I've been there, don't feel bad. Right now, I can do a lot because I'm settled and have a home and can give lots of spare belongings, as well as cash donations.

It sounds like they got the animals moved a couple of days ago, thank goodness.
(no subject) - areasontofight on February 10th, 2009 11:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - areasontofight on February 10th, 2009 11:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - areasontofight on February 10th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
elzedelzed on February 10th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC)

I have been thinking of you - and other Oz flisters, but you especially, since you live closest, I think, and you were posting about it recently. I am absolutely appalled not just at the loss of life, but at the way entire communities have been razed to the ground; not to mention the thought that arsonists are likely to be involved in this catastrophe.

Sending my love, and sympathy, and hoping this will abate soon. I cannot imagine the trauma and anguish you must all be living through.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 11:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's been shocking. I still can't believe that Marysville is gone. The Cumberland hotel was where we always stayed when I was little. It was smack bang in the middle of the main road--gone. So was the smaller place my partner and I stayed a few years ago on a trip around Victoria. It is such a beautiful spot. And it's gone.

At work, they sent a notice out saying 'orders to these areas will not be processed as they no longer exist'. Seven townships were listed.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and sympathy! *hugs*
gildinwengildinwen on February 10th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
I'm donating money to the red cross appeal. I can't do much else, just *hugs*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
That's so wonderful of you!! Thank you so much!!
brokenmnemonic: The Pricebrokenmnemonic on February 10th, 2009 11:37 am (UTC)
I've been following this on the BBC news website all day during work and at home in the evenings. The sheer scale of the brushfires this year beggars belief. I don't know what to say - I've been taking comfort from the fact that you and smact46 are safe, but it's terrifying to think about how bad this already is and ho wmuch worse it could get.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on February 10th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
I just hope there are no more deaths, I really do. I can't take it in, all the stories of bodies being found huddled together... in baths (to escape the flames), in cars, running from the house to the cars, trying to save animals or relatives... it's just nightmarish.
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on February 10th, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tyffi: merlin: morgana angrytyffi on February 10th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
We just made a little collection here at uni and raised a few Euros that will be donated to the Red Cross, or the RSPCA. We're still discussing. However, there's a little money, and it will be donated today. It's not much, but given the fact the Euro is still stronger than the AUD... well, even a little will help.

Of course, the bushfires are on the news here as well, and it's said that at least half of the fires were started by fire-raisers. I'll never ever understand how a person can do such a thing. Never! That just don't want to get into my head.

Just stay safe, and here's hoping for some cold weather and rain. *hugs*

ETA: What's with the Brits being not allowed to donate blood? I'm a little surprised here.

Edited at 2009-02-10 12:11 pm (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's so wonderful that you're donating! Like you say--it will go a lot further here, and the people affected need anything, even the most basic things. Today there was a big push for toiletries for instance (basic stuff like soap and shampoo)--just getting that will help families enormously.

Yes, it's true that many of the fires were deliberately lit. They say they are close to catching one of the arsonists... they very rarely catch them. I think it can be a sort of addiction to danger thing that drives them, but it is unthinkable, yes.

Wow I would love rain, real rain, so much! *imagines*

ETA: The no-Brit-blood thing is because of BSE (CJD). We've never had it here. The Aussies are neurotic about their quarantine measure, usually with good reason as foreign-imported bugs/animals/pests have wreaked so much havoc here in the past.

Edited at 2009-02-10 12:18 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - tyffi on February 10th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Alexandra Leaving: BSG - Tigh the Cylon Leaderalexandral on February 10th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for the links!

Our thoughts to all of you in Australia!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 11th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)
You're welcome, and thank you!
redteekal: Spryte at 11 weeks old by meredteekal on February 10th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)
I have come home this evening and found your post on my flist and my heart has plummeted once again reading about the increasing death toll. Here in Perth we are watching on in horror knowing our State could face exactly that before the summer is out, in fact our fieries are prepping for the worst - they know there will be fires as our temps go over 40 in the next couple days. My post is here http://redteekal.livejournal.com/45201.html
where I give details and links as well. So far I am entering the virtual dog show and will be supporting future fundraising events. The sight of a burnt out station wagon with a family of four and the burnt out dog trailer being towed behind it was just so horrific and sad.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kittenbop_radar on February 11th, 2009 10:34 am (UTC)
Thank you for the link, it's so wonderful to see everyone helping out in whatever way they can. I hope things are ok in WA, I know your temperatures are up high again.

And yes, the stories of people and their animals dying together are so tragic. However I also saw many people managed to save their loved pets--perhaps nothing but their dog, but I can imagine how that is still a comfort.
Enderenderwiggin24 on February 10th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
grrr, whoever those arsonists are, I really hope, they will soon rot in some special burning hell as well.

damn, boppy, so sorry, that the situation about the fire has escalating like that!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 11th, 2009 10:35 am (UTC)
The Kinglake fire was not lit by an arsonist, thank goodness. But the Gippsland fires were. Thank you for your kind thoughts!
Valerie: unsafeclarkjeannev on February 10th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
My heart breaks for the people of Australia. I'll be sure to make a donation, and help in any small way I can.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! *hugs*
Call Me OneTrack: Tara namecallmeonetrack on February 10th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
I am so flummoxed and saddened by everything going on down there. I've never been in a fire situation thankfully and can't quite wrap my head around the devestation and destruction. It's so scary and just heartbreaking. I'm enormously glad you're doing okay and thinking of you and all my other flisters in Australia.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
I've never had to flee from one, but I've seen them in the distance in the country when I was little. I've certainly seen the devastation they bring before, but nothing on this scale, and so close to Melbourne. Normally towns are well defended, there's enough warning for people to implement their fire strategies, and stay and defend their homes if they choose to. They're saying they might rethink that policy now because these people stood no chance.
serenographyserenography on February 10th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear about all this devastation. It's unfathomable to me that any could intentionally do something like this. I'll be making a donation to the Red Cross this morning. *hugs you*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I can't imagine anyone expected it would actually cause this much damage, but at the same time... to walk outside in 48 degrees with the winds blowing like that, the air so dry that if you held a wet sheet up, it would be dry in 10 seconds, and think that it would be fun or funny to light a fire? You'd have to be mentally ill or a psychopath.
bofoddity on February 10th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
It's horrifying how this just goes on and on and on. The idea that some shithead would do this on purpose makes me sick, and I hope that's not true. The suffering is bad enough as it is, for humans and animals both.

Glad you're okay.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
It's true of some of the fires. I'm not sure it's true of the Kinglake fire which was one of the most devastating, but they'll investigate all of them to be sure.
Mary: Vanessa / handspenumbra on February 10th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
I've heard the bushfires being described as "apocalyptic", and I really understand where that feeling is coming from. We really have so little to deal with in Britain by way of natural disaster that we all just stand by with horror at the idea that great swathes of a country could be consumed and destroyed just like that -- and all the loss of life, the damage to the environment and the impact on local wildlife that goes with it. It's just. It's heartbreaking.

I just meant to say -- I'm so sorry you have to deal with this in an area close to your heart. It's distressing enough to watch this unfold from the other side of the globe, I can't imagine how devastating it is to be so close to a disaster like this.

Edited at 2009-02-10 05:53 pm (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 10th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
It is like something from a post-apocalyptic movie, yes. The way some of the fires came, they melted cars it was so hot. People died from the heat blast alone--not unlike a nuclear explosion. They talk about houses exploding, walls of flames metres high.

It is actually quite exhausting to watch, but doing something to help really 'helps'--I am packing up my car with blankets and towels and containers to deliver to the animal shelters today. I am sure there will be many other ways to help the communities rebuild in the coming months.
Caryle: compassion hugcarylerg on February 10th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you for providing a link that spurred me into action. My donation was initially declined by my credit card company, but they called me today to verify that my donation was, in fact, made by me so I've sent a little bit that way. This tragedy is heartbreaking, and my thoughts are with the wonderful people of Australia who were so kind to me when I visited in 1992.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee boxing hugbop_radar on February 10th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your generosity--it will go a long way. *hugs*
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on February 11th, 2009 10:36 am (UTC)
Not in danger, no. I hope the fires abate soon too. Thank you for your kind thoughts!