Monday, February 09, 2009
I am trying not to be on too much of a downer on the blog at the moment, but the fact is that the ongoing bushfire tragedy is basically at the forefront of everyone mind at the moment. This is now officially the worst natural disaster in Australian history.
There are both terrible, terrible stories coming to light now, but as well there are amazing tales of survival and bravery. The fires continue to burn out of control and there are still homes and lives under threat.
There are stories of entire towns being wiped out. There is a town called Strathewen that had a population of 200 people. There are fears that 30% of the population in that town have been killed. 30%. It just seems totally unfathomable.
Going into work today felt quite surreal. I remember feeling this way a couple of times before, most notably during the aftermath of the Bali terrorist bombings and September 11. It just feels so strange to be going about your normal lives when you know so many people are suffering so badly.
Once I got to work, it was to find that one of my staff has a sister who has lost absolutely everything. Whilst they all survived, it was a very close thing for her nephew who only survived by jumping in a water tank.
Another staff member lived 5 streets away from where some homes were lost, and yet another evacuated on Saturday just in case when a few homes in her suburb went up in flames.
One of the programs that my employer runs has been completely destroyed, so even if our staff were not directly in the path of the fires, they and others like them may have lost their livelihoods for a short time, or maybe for the long term.
Again, none of these affect me directly, but it still feels pretty close to home given that I know people who know people.
Amongst all the terrible stories, there are stories of incredible bravery and of miraculous survivals, and so many of our volunteer firefighters, some of whom have lost their own homes, are still battling to fight the fires that are still burning. And Aussies are being incredibly generous. Our phone lines were overloaded today as people tried to ring into our organisation to give donations.
** Image from TimesOnline