Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fires!!!

As many of you would know we have had very heavy weather down here in Australia of late.

There has been monsoonal rain and flooding in the far north. In places like Ingham where 300mm of rain fell on one night and 200mm of it fell in just one hour. Those living in these towns have felt the impact of floods with one report also

saying -

"Crocodiles, snakes, spiders and other vermin are everywhere in the water, locals said, while there also have been reports of large spills of sewage and chemicals from some farms.

The flood crisis is also continuing in the northwest and Channel Country, where thousands of square kilometres are under water.

Food and fodder drops continued to isolated communities yesterday. They are expected to be cut off for at least another month."

I have a google map here for anyone who wishes to view it

Ingham is in North Queensland.

Map of Australia with fire info added.

 

In the Southern states of Victoria and parts of NSW and also to a lesser extent this time in South Australia, fires caused havoc and destruction on a scale in Victoria that is being hailed as an Australian Disaster and Catastrophe which up until now is unrivaled.

 

Let me explain.

In the Southern States we have a dry hot Summer

and our seasons follow ..

  • Summer: December to February
  • Autumn: March to May
  • Winter: June to August
  • Spring: September to November

In our northern states and in the top regions of Australia we have a different climate.

In the north there are tropical regions with high temperatures and high humidity and distinct wet and dry seasons. In the centre of the country are dry, desert regions with high daytime temperatures and low amounts of rain. In the south are the temperate regions with moderate rainfall and temperatures ranging from hot to cold.

The temperature in Australia changes with the seasons, but in general it ranges between highs of 50 degrees Celsius to lows of sub-zero temperatures. The lowest temperatures reached in Australia, however, are not comparable to the extreme lows experienced in other continents. This is partly because Australia lacks very high mountains and enjoys the presence of warming oceans around its coastal regions.

The information above is from Australian Weather

 

 

This Summer for us was for the period leading up to the fires in Victoria was to become Heatwave Conditions. We had the conditions here too and fortunately we were spared any huge fires in South Australia. The weather here and in Victoria was ripe for fires as the oven like temperature out side was in the 40s and the bush and undergrowth was tinder dry from drought. Rain has not been enough for our states this season and coupled with extreme heat and an added strong wind the seriousness of the situation erupted throughout Victoria with many fires breaking out and it is with dismay I might add that some of these fires were started in malice by those arsonists whom we call Fire Bugs.

Saturday February the 7th was to become the day all of Australia will never forget as whole communities were razed by a force no one could ever have envisioned. Fires that blacked out the sky and roared through like a highway full of trucks. Flames in some cases like ten story buildings leaving people helpless and in a totally hopeless situation. In Victoria there is a policy that you may leave or stay and defend you property and it is your choice in fire situations. Alarmingly many people were caught unawares and many perished in their cars as they tried to escape too late.

Nothing prepares us for the horrifying scenes that have been viewed across the country of the aftermath and destruction. The tragedy was also caught on phones and video cameras by some who were caught up in the thick of this hellish experience.

Parrots being hand fed at Marysville.

Marysville a charming Victorian Town full of history and charm was razed with lives lost. Last October a friend was staying there for a birthday celebration and had sent out invites to come and stay in this picturesque village. Due to other commitments it was not possible to go although I had stayed in Healseville about 33klms away, a few years earlier and knew how charming and beautiful this whole area was.

Mountainous and bushy with pretty small towns dotted around. So many now just gone.

Photo taken by my friend of parrots at the resort in Marysville Victoria.

Devastation and desperation is all that is left now as people try to come to grips with losses of loved ones, friends,acquaintances, their pets and animals,their businesses their way of life and their personal belongings now are all gone.

We have much to learn from this disaster and there are many small communities in high fire danger areas that might need to rethink staying in with their homes and properties in such dreadful conditions as was experienced this last weekend.

The emergency services personal and those who overcame there own traumas to help others will be our new heroes.

There will be many stories of the bravery and commitment to saving others to come through.

We are a nation in mourning and in these situations we all want to help in any way that we can. Aussies are pretty resilient people but it will take time for our Victorian neighbours to come to grips with this devastation and upheaval.

Once the towns are opened up again and the crime scene tapes are removed I am sure that the instinct to rebuild albeit with regard to their surroundings and habitat will be a therapy for those who are willing and able. For others the pain will be too much to bare and new beginnings elsewhere will be their choices.

The weekend brings more heat here and as of now we have had no rain to speak about.  Perhaps mother nature will share a bit of the extra rain in our monsoonal far north with us before too long but that is more of a wish that a reality.

Thank you to all who have inquired about us down-under and the thoughts and prayers from you all have been heard and welcomed.

Hugs from Milli.

Feb 10 09

Link to what the situation is now...

30 comments:

  1. I have been following this in the news and wondering about you (just last night again)
    this is so heart wrenching...keeping you all in my prayers
    (((hugs)))

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  2. Thank You Danette it is something that has affected us all in one way or another as we hear now also that winds have once again picked up and the fire embers become a problem..thank you so much for your prayers.

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  3. i saw the news last night. it was horrifying. i can only pray for those whose lives are devastated. we have similar incident last night, when a tradition of grass burning in the mountain to invite good harvest and fortune turned into a calamity. the fire broke out, claiming 4 lives and several mountain climbers in serious condition now.

    this is getting scary.

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  4. Wow Milli this is just so sad. Good to read you are well. Are folks being asked to take in animals at least temporarily while clean-up takes place? Some of the reports from flooding during Katrina were about all the animals that were trapped in less than hospitable situations. With all the gorgeous birds in Australia I can only hope rescue efforts are underway to protect them now that their trees may have perished.

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  5. Hi Deity and thanks for your comment. We in Australia have moved into bushland because of the nature and beauty there but before we came to be there, nature did send fires through lightening etc and the bush would rejuvenate after these fires. Fires are a part of nature as hard as it is for us to understand. Fires that have been lit for a purpose well they become another matter entirely. This last weekend unlike your fires which were light for a ceremony ours were lit by very angry and sick individuals who used the conditions to maximum effect.
    The authorities are treating this very seriously and they will be brought to full trial. I am sorry to hear about what happened there too and wonder if a rethink might have to apply due to weather patterns around the globe these days.

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  6. Glad you are safe, my prayers are with those affected!

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  7. Good question Ren. There are organisations and individuals who do take in affected animals. As harsh as this might sound so many did perish. Like the humans we lost in this horrific fire animals surely succumb too. The birds could at least fly away and funny some of these birds and animals do have another sense for danger and you could see from film footage kangaroos hopping away from the fires. But still the sadness is many would be lost. At least birds do get a birds eye view and can see so much before it gets to them and many animals will seek out water. If you have seen the vision though of the burnt out areas it will be some time before the birds come back..but they will.

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  8. I have been following this also Milli and I pray for healing of those sick and lost minds who can even contemplate these atrocities. Yes, natures fires do bring rejuvenation, but this is something quite different isn't it? We have friends and family in Melbourne right now.

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  9. By the way the bird photos are beautiful!

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  10. Thank You Dear Mia. The bush does rejuvenate and it will but yes the fires in many cases were deliberate and people and their loved ones,families, pets and belongings do not just rejuvenate. For them it is Hard and difficult. Your friends would know how desperate it all is Mia I hope they are safe.

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  11. Honestly, while watching the news last night, I can't help but imagine the arsons being burned in stake. I can not think of a far fairer punishment. What they did is unforgivable.

    The sudden change of wind here caused the fire to break out. Natives of that town have been doing this for several hundred years now and it's the first time in history that grass burning ceremony turned out to be a nightmare.

    Hugsss, Ms. M. Let's pray that everything will be alright for the victim, although we both know their lives will never be the same.

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  12. The parrots and many other wonderful plants and wildlife are all a big part of the attraction in these parts of Victoria Dave and these were kindly lent by my Melbourne friend. Healseville has a wonderful animal sanctuary and Thankfully it is safe for now.

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  13. Exactly MJ this is the lest we can do..Hugs and Good night to you Dear too!

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  14. Milli you have been often in my thoughts these days and I am so glad you are safe. While not of the range and scope of your fires we to have been having problems with the arid conditions and the high winds causing the least little of spare to cause a raging fire. I pray for all of Australia to heal and may you continue to stay safe.

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  15. Milli, it is awful. I feel for all affected by it, the trouble being that the effects will be felt nationwide long after the fires are put out and not only by the victims and their loved ones. My thoughts are with you all. We knew about the monsoon in the north, but not the flooding. My brother-in-law is there. I think a call to see if they're ok is in order. Thanks for the heads up.

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  16. We in America are so sadden with your country's fires, lose of lives and property. I've been following the happenings online and on TV. May God be with the Aussie's who are effected by this tragedy.

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  17. Rita thank you so much for your good thoughts. I am as you know in South australia and thankfully closer to the sea. Our hills and paddocks are at risk though and fires have certainly been nearby over the last few years. A very hot day with unfavourable conditions certainly does leave every one a bit anxious because many fires here too have been th work of firebugs. Our stat toughened up this year and now keep a very close eye on those who they have suspicions about and they give them warning too that were under surveillance.
    I do hope that this is a scheme that will take off in other states too because that same day here with similar conditions 40 people were watched and luckily we had no catastrophes. Best Wishes Rita.

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  18. I'm sitting here in tears reading the articles in that last link.

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  19. Ohh Tint it was so numbing here these last days and I know how you are feeling. We all understand the devastation but we cant even begin to feel these victims loss and pain..Big Hugs to You!!!! Blessings too and yes check up with your family even though I am sure they are fine...

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  20. Thank You Dear Nick and the map I gave is a google map and if you click on the fires section top left you can actually see how those fires are going now. I believe the nasa satellite showed the smoke too.

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  21. I have read many books about Australia as I too wanted to move there in 1947 but I went home to collect my wife and that was the end. I had two more tries and was ready to take her mum and dad, that failed too. It seemed to me to be the only country in the World where you could live the life needed to survive in what it must have been like 2000 years ago.
    An army friend joined Qantas out there and my wife's only surviving brother moved there but still she would not move.
    So with all that pre knowledge what I have read here has knocked me flat.
    I am speechless as I read of all the horrors without the fire. The whole country needs help and nothing about the floods etc. have been on the news here. I know this is selfish but thank God you and your loved ones are safe
    Best wishes, I'm stunned.

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  22. Oh the animals' plight during wildfires... just awful..my thoughts go out to everyone affected..be safe and much love.

    As you know South Africa has its fair share of fires during the dry winter season I wrote about one here: http://aslowread.multiply.com/journal/item/22/Bushfire_South_Africa

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  23. Glad to hear you are well Milli ...and hoping things settle down for your country. I can't even imagine living with that fear or worse yet being in the middle of it. I would love to live in California here but couldn't deal with the fires there. Stay safe my friend !!!!

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  24. I heard about it in the news and I was wondering about all my friend there besides the common men.Glad to know that u r fine. But there must have been lot of damage. They showed on the TV that on one side there is fire and on the other there are floods. Both causing damage. My prayers for all those who are in midst of all these problems. Take care ...God bless all.

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  25. G'day milli,bad stuff girl..I have been listening on the New Zealand Net talkback,sending all my Aussie Mates AROHA (Love)((hugs))
    Kia Kaha= 'Stand Tall and Be Strong'

    'She'll Be Right Mate'
    ((hugs)) x x

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  26. Thank You my Dear Dear friends. I have heard some terrible stories from the fire district this morning but I also heard some very heart wrenching great stories too. Let me share here two of those stories.
    One is about the koala bear found in the burnt out bush by fire fighters. Sitting by the burnt out tree this little wild animal accepted water from a firefighters water bottle and he drank willing a few bottles of water. I am sure this image will circulate around the world as it was a precious moment. The saying "How much can a koala bear " is such an apt description for this scene.
    My second story is about a man and his beloved mate, his horse.
    Inseparable he and his horse, he sent his family to safety and stayed back with his horse. Everything was razed around them and the only way they survived was to go to the dam and dive in. This man dived in and his horse following behind came in behind him and landed on top of him. He did not mind as they both survived together in the dam. Another story to touch th heart. You may see these stories in your country soon too!

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  27. So worried, so horrified! People, animals! Drought, flames! It's Hades!
    I'll be posting a blog for my friend Roo whi is in the middle of this. It's just unbelievable.
    And the stories!!!
    Stay safe, dear Milli!
    I always felt since I began blogging that my Aussie friends were so beyond special.
    I love you!!

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  28. Bill and I have been following the news of your fires for the last week. The photos in our paper of the devastation is just unreal. This is just so awful for your folks. I'm so glad you're in South and that's not hit too badly. I like your idea of water from the north being diverted to the south. That's what is being proposed here in California. Of course, we in the north aren't too keen on the idea - especially when we're in the middle of a very bad drought too. Last years horrific wildfires were some of the worst in the state's history and this upcoming year is going to be even worse. I just pray we don't see anything as awful as yours.
    I'm glad you're OK
    Hugs!

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  29. Wonderful blog. So informative and really gives a sense not just of the losses and devastation, but also of national unity and bravery.

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