Well... the bad news keeps pouring in. Now NSW has massive fires along with all the ones still burning out of control in VIC.
Gee, don't forget about the massive flooding up in QLD.
This post will be a bit disjointed today. I've been trying to keep up with the news and have a great many links and info for you all, but there are times (like as I type this) that I have to take a break and cry.
About every 30 minutes the death toll is updated from Victoria (VIC). I think right now it's at 135. Several small towns have disappeared.
Before ANYONE puts in a comment about folks not having a fire plan or living in a bushfire prone area, let me say a couple a things.
Firstly, all my regular commenters will give you the smackdown of your life.
Nextly, these are folks and towns that have fire plans and have weathered untold numbers of fires of the years. Leave early or stay and defend (with a proper plan and fire-proofing stuff ready) has worked for decades for these people.
There are old veteran bushfire fighters from not only Aus but around the globe (we're all in this together!) who say they've never seen anything like this. The speed, the heat, etc. Yes, this includes fighters who regularly battle fires flamed by the US Californian Santa Ana winds.
Well, here's a few links about that while I go blow my nose... I'll be back.
I saw one story where a fire started 1.5 km from a town and within 5 minutes the town was an inferno.
Fire falling from the sky, burning embers from trees that exploded over 12 km away, mini fire tornados spring up... shit...
This all happened in the space of just a few hours over our Saturday night. Fire crews had been on alert just waiting for what one (asshole) news commentator dubbed "The Perfect Firestorm," but there wasn't much they could do.
I'd heard reports of over 10,000 CFA fighters working to contain untold number of blazes. South Aus sent over a contigent of our CFS guys along with Elvis. Elvis is out big ole Erickson Sky Crane helicopter that can dump a lot of water quickly. We couldn't spare much more as we've got our own fires.
A doctor at the Alfred Hospital said this is worse than he saw when he treated the Bali bombing victims:
Oh, and they've just run out of morphine...
Offers of help and aid have been coming in from around the world, notable from the Commomwealth countries, of course.
UK Prime Minister
And I do believe the Kiwis have just asked what they can do. Apparantly the smoke made it all the way over there and that's never happened from our fires before.
Just because the weather has cooled off a bit, doesn't mean the fires are out. There's no rain. Victoria has had a ten year (I think) drought and I think South Aus is in year number 6. Many towns have just now been placed on alert:
So, like what are Aussies and the govmint doin'? LOTS!
Sunday morning (immediately after the major firestorm started) ole Kevin Rudd (yes, our PM is Krudd) pledged a $10M dollar Community Relief Fund. The Victorian State Premier (think Governor for those of you in the US) added $2M and the Fed (Krudd) matched that.
Krudd then mobilised the Army to help not only with fire fighting but also with logistical and transport help for all the aid pouring in, and also with loads of heavy equipment for clearing roads, debris. No need to dig firebreaks or trenches down here, these fires jump them without a second thought.
Cricket Australia and Channel Nine announced that the upcoming international match between the Aussies and the Kiwis will be for charity. That includes gate money, ad revenue, concessions, etc.
Commonwealth Bank kicked off the cricket drive with $1M. Then all the major Australian banks each kicked in $1M apiece. I do believe Wesfarmers has just kicked in $500,000 today too.
Just got word that News Limited (they own the Sydney Morning Herald) just kicked in $1M.
As of 3:30 this afternoon individual aussies had already donated $5.6M
The Aussie Red Cross is keeping track of all this, and every single cent is going to relief and help, not a thin dime to their admin; very cool and good on 'em!
What's cool is not only can you help online, but you can stroll into any Bunnings Hardware Store to make a donation, or saunter into any of these banks to help too: NAB, ANZ, Westpac or Commonwealth Bank branch.
If you are overseas and want to help, then just go here:
Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009
I urge any Alaskan NOT to make a donation though until they have sent one flat rate box to the Y-K Delta Villages:
Nunam Iqua Food Drive
c/o Ann Strongheart
P.O. Box 7
Nunam Iqua, AK 99666
cus them folks are hard up and the Governor of Alaska isn't doing squat to help them!
If you want to keep up with the fires and where they are at, both Google and Aus-emaps have come to the rescue. Aus-emaps is pretty slow though but they do cover the whole continent...
Google VIC fires
And if you want to keep up with the news:
Lotsa news stories
For those of you who like tales of grief...
Well, I'm off to make dinner... hopefully it'll be good but my mind sure ain't gonna be on cooking.