I know some of you are having it tough…

… but Compassion for others can help you feel better about yourselves and your situation,

My Country is in Mourning after our worst ever natural disaster (in a single weekend event – we now regularly have severe droughts that last years and floods and cyclones that cause more widespread damage) this last weekend:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,24897,25027160-601,00.html

The horiffic Weather conditions in the South of Australia (Melbourne – a City of almost 4 million – had their hottest recorded temperature, over 115 degrees (46.4C) on Saturday!) have now changed to much more bearable levels giving all, including the volunteer firefighters who have been overwhelmed by recent events, some relief but bushfires are still burning (one firefront yesterday was 50 miles in length – there were at least 8 separate major infernos in the State of Victoria where most deaths have been recorded on Saturday/Sunday).

The people of Victoria could use a prayer or two right now.

Update: 10/Feb/09. Latest official death toll is 183, but unconfirmed reports have said almost 150 more bodies were brought off the firescenes today for despatch to the Victorian Coroners Office. Even more bodies may be located in coming weeks as each property destroyed is investigated.

Over 1000 homes are currently recorded as lost but not all fire areas have yet been able to be thouroughly searched and the sparsely scattered population of the regions means exact figures may not be known for weeks to months as recovery teams need to take extreme care in what amount to crime scenes, where so many have lost their life.

Despite ‘favourable’ weather conditions since Sunday, many fires still burn and more hot weather is predicted for the coming weekend.

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13 thoughts on “I know some of you are having it tough…

  1. Oh my God. Kimmy posted something about the fires too, but I had no idea. I’ve read a few articles … devastating. How completely devastating. Lord have mercy.

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  2. What a horrendous death toll. Hard to imagine how so many could die from a brush fire. I have no idea what it would be like to try and out run a fire.

    I hope the survivors get the help they need.

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  3. Annie, Ric and Ed – Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

    It is almost impossible to believe the Death toll – which is increasing every day and may continue to do so for weeks – it is a litttle similar to 9/11 in that little to nothing remains in places , bones and body parts rather than whole bodies are all that might be identified in some cases, and only confirmed bodies are being included in the offiicial death toll – many more are missing and some taken from the fires who are in hospital with various injuries might yet die.

    Australia, like California and other areas, now seems to have the horror of bushfires on an annual basis but Australia has seen nothing that came close to this for decades and never in our history have more people and buildings been lost to the flames. The people who were caught up in this were ‘aware’ of the danger and knew to make plans to either fight or flee long before the fires developed and yet what they had to face was beyond anything anyone has lived through before.

    There was not ‘a bushfire’ – there were at least 8 Major inferno’s that could not be in any way ‘contained’ and a total of over 400 individual major fire areas in one state alone. In three days over 1500 square miles ( 350,000 hectares) of forrest and bush and countryside were scorched and razed.

    People who decided to flee were caught in their cars and burned to death. Ccars ran of roads because the smoke was too dense to see through the windshield to the end of the bonnet a few ran into fallen trees across exit roads.

    Those who decided to stay and fight to protect their home were incinerated with their brick and iron homes which were then turned to ash and blown away in the hurricane force fire-draughts. This was litterally Hell on Earth where nothing you did could save you.

    On the other hand there are unbelievable stories of survival for people and property. Fire is the most unpredictable of the ‘natural disasters’. the difference between living and dying from one is simply ‘chance’.

    The one good thing concerning this devastation and tragedy is the Spirit of the Australian People. This has united the country as little else ever could and help is being poured in from everywhere and everyone, large and small, rich and poor, politicians and populace are all doing what they can and more to provide support so badly needed for those who survived with nothing more than what they were wearing and those who were not directly affected but who lost something more valuable than material possessions.

    But anything offered would not be refused.

    The Red Cross is co-ordinating an official help line.

    I hope and pray that no-one ever (again) goes through anything like those folk in Victoria have this past weekend.

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  4. Thank you for visiting my blog.

    I still can’t believe the level of destruction that has occurred. So many fires are still burning that even though Dubbo is nowhere near any of the fires nearly the entire sky is grey with smoke.

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  5. Nice to see a fellow Aussie, K πŸ™‚

    While the loss of human life and property is devastating i think it a little sad also to think of the loss of Animal life that undoubtedly has occurred. All i have heard of so far is the odd family pet and just a couple of livestock mentioned but the native animals of the areas must be decimated also 😦

    I understand the loss is almost too great to consider such ‘lesser’ loss being worth reporting… all the same….

    Hope Dubbo remains ‘Safe’.

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  6. What has amazed me the most is the speed of the fires. As I read, hearing about people dead in the streets, and cars run off the road – someone said you’d be actually safer in a house than on the street because the fire would burn relatively slower in a house than out in the open – that had my mouth hanging open. Because it is common knowledge that a house burns so fast, that the only smart thing to do is get out of there the instant you smell smoke. I can’t imagine these fires. California has wildfires … but by and large they travel over treed hills and mountains. They do not travel as fast as a brushfire. A brushfire, I imagine, is over open plain, burning only grasses and thin trees and bushes, being driven along by whatever the wind happens to be. In this case, the winds were 60 mph – storm force. They said the fires spread like a freight train. I can’t imagine a fire coming at me at 60 mph. It makes sense that no one could outrun it. But – how to imagine?? I can’t. Stories of two people running for cover – one makes it and the other doesn’t. I can’t imagine. It then also makes sense that no one could outrun it even if a car. The car would have to be going directly away from the fire at a speed surpassing 60 mph. Those are odds that won’t always be with you. It is truly incredible. I can’t imagine. I simply can’t imagine.

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  7. Annie – count your blessings if you are like most of us that you cannot imagine or understand this fire situation – i imagine any who can suffer nightmares.

    The last thing i would wish for you ( apart from living through the experience) is having such nightmares but i am able to offer information that can help you a little with the concept.

    Firstly, Aussies have a love of ‘The Bush’ – not the Burning Bush of Moses – we refer to the ‘country’ ( as opposed to the City or towns) as The Bush as a general colloquialism. ‘Real’ Australians who live away from cities and metro regions are referred to as ‘Bushies’ sometimes, Some call themseslves the Boys (or Girls) from The Bush as a term of some pride and refer to city dwellers or ‘Townies’ with a semi-joking derogation.

    Even native parkland areas or reserves in our cities can also be referred to as ‘Bush’ and the types of flora in them are many and varied, from grassland to small scrub and bushes to Gum and Karri trees over 250 feet tall.

    A bushfire can take place in any and all these areas and some are not dissimilar to California’s Fires.

    Many of Australia’s serious fires – and we have several seperate outbreaks ( mostly comprising multiple individual firefronts at the same time) of this nature every year around the entire country – involve very large areas of what amounts to wild forest of eucalypts with very small townships ( most under 200 population) doted amongst them sparsely.

    The problem with Eucalypts ( like some pines) is that they give of enormous quantities of Eucalypt Oil normally that permeates the very air about them.

    Once a fire begins this oil vapour increases and can act as fuel – the very air can seem to ‘catch fire.’

    In our summer many areas undergo weeks of very warm to extremely hot temperatures combined with little to no rainfall – add this to many years of tree and leaf litter dropping without being cleared and the entire foreted area becomes one gigantic bonfire just waiting for a spark – sometimes nature provides it as in lightening or sun shining through broken glass like a magnifying glass – sometimes man causes it unintentionally as in throwing a cigarette butt out of a car window – or sparks from an arc welder on a farm – or trees touching power lines and arcing them – and sometimes – as is suspected in some of the recent fires – man does it deliberately – a firebug.

    Often in Australia high temperatures are caused by strong dry desert winds and any fire ‘fed’ by these moves very quickly through ultradry Bush, but in some particularly ‘favourable’ aras of forestation the fires become so large and so fierce they create their own mini-climates, drawing oxygen into the core of the fire increasing the temps and increasing the speed of winds around them – up to 80 and 100 kmh. Sudden changes of wind direction were also experienced in Victoria meaning a place thought ‘safe’ from fire within minutes was being burned.

    The winds in such a fire create ember storms where smouldering glowing wood is driven in a cloud in front of the firefront itself. Given the right conditions these embers can be blown 15 to 20 kilometers in front of a firefront and these are very capable of generating fresh fires and are the predominant cause of housefires.

    I heard one survivor who had a fireplan to stay and defend his home tell of embers being forced into and through every crack in all his doors and windows as well as getting into and under his roof it was impossible to cover all access points for these embers and put them out before small flames began and his house began to burn.

    And then comes the final part of the horror.

    Most of us think of fires that begin inside the house or an apartment block and to escape is a ‘simple’ matter of going outside and walking or driving away from it.

    These fires are not like that – the fire source is outside your home. so much is being burned that the sky becomes black with smoke and daylight is almost non-existant – even at midday.

    The man i mentioned needed his wife’s car keys so they could get in and try to drive away but he could not see into her purse to get them – he only found them through ‘feel’ – and this was inside his house while the fire was still mostly outside.

    Driving away from a fire sounds ‘simple’.

    Try doing it when you can’t see the end of your bonnet and you need High beam on your headlights and still cannot see even a car length in front of the car – in the middle of the day.

    Then try to drive at anything over 10 miles per hour along a twisting mountainous forest road or driveway with burning trees left and right of you and ditches on either side of the road and you might get a better ‘picture’ of why the death toll occurred.

    Bushfires are common in Australia – every year people die in them – we all know this here.

    But this was something no-one could see or adequately prepare for.

    Man can take all reasonable ‘precautions’ but when nature determines a disaster is going to occur all we can really do is count the cost and do what we can to help any who survive with their lives.

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  8. Wow. Thanks for the lesson, Blove. Quite the clearer picture. Don’t worry about nightmares here … I always sleep soundly. πŸ™‚ One of the promises of the Lord my mother claimed for me since I was little. I do trust in the peace of Almighty God to sleep well at night. But thanks for the information and background. It’s incredible. Wow.

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  9. lovewillbringustogether, I agree the wildlife has been forgotten, at least until today, I have heard a few stories of people helping wildlife

    I hope we stay safe too, and all our family across the ACT and QLD

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  10. Yeah K – happily there are those who are helping the wildlife too. I saw some stories just tonight.

    I heard they estimate wildlife lost in these fires to be over one million creatures 😦

    I guess we are so lucky ‘relatively’ few people live in the area, in a way.

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