Victoria Burns and a Nation Weeps

by Kelly on February 10, 2009 · 27 comments

in Life. People. News

fire-and-treeAustralia is experiencing its worst natural disaster in history.

Victoria’s week of soaring temperatures, which reached as high as 47.9° C in some towns (or 118.22° F), along with gale force winds have created the most horrific bush fires this country has ever seen.

As I write this 173 people are dead, over 750 homes have been destroyed and whole towns have been wiped out. An estimated 330,00 hectares (815,446 acres) of land and its wildlife have been decimated.

These figures are impossible for me to get my head around, but worse still is the knowledge that the death toll can only rise because there are areas that the fire fighters still cannot reach.

Australia is a country that suffers with bush fires, but nothing like this.

In the area of Kinglake, a resident, who survived the blaze, reported that…

“it took just two minutes for the flames to travel 20km, roar up the Sherwin Ranges and explode over the top.”

Two minutes for homes to be felled and people to die from a fire they never even saw coming.

The devastation that these communities must be experiencing is unimaginable, and I think as a nation we are still in shock. I know it feels quite surreal for me to be sitting in a comfortable house south of Sydney, NSW, on a rainy day writing this, a cup of tea at hand, everything normal and oh so easy.firefighter1

It feels worse than surreal. I feel guilty - helpless. Like my life shouldn’t go on as normal while my countrymen and women are suffering so.

Rationally of course I know I have done what I can by donating to the Emergency Relief Fund of the Australian Red Cross, but still this uneasiness and sense of loss lingers. I guess it’s common to feel this way when there is great suffering around you, though you and your family are fine.

For everyone affected by this tragedy, I send my prayers.

For the fire fighters, Australian Army and brave citizens of Victoria who are battling to put out these fires and help their communities recover, I applaud your courage and grace.

family-man-in-firesAs a fellow Australian I grieve, while giving thanks for the tenacity of our nation’s spirit. We are people who are generous and enduring. Whose strength and hope cannot be contained or destroyed. Not even by mother nature.

Photos copyright of  The Herald Sun

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{ 3 trackbacks }

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frisky Librarian 02.10.09 at 4:26 pm

I know what you mean about how it feels surreal to keep on going about your normal, everyday life. I live in inner Melbourne and work in the CBD and we can’t even see or smell the smoke, which is what usually happens when there are fires. It’s hard to imagine when you are out and about with people grocery shopping and reading a book on the tram and going about their work that there is such an unimaginable horror taking place not that far away.

It’s hard to get your head around it in every way - such large scale loss and damage and trauma. Even looking online at the faces of some of the people who’ve died…I can’t believe it.

But is inspiring and wonderful to see how compassionate and generous our society is, how well we pull together in times of trouble.

Have to stop now. Going to cry.

Frisky Librarian’s last blog post..A sombre 100th post

2 Kelly 02.10.09 at 5:03 pm

@Frisky Librarian
So good to hear from a fellow Aussie about this. I can’t believe you are not seeing and smelling the smoke from Melbourne city - it just doesn’t seem right, does it? How can all this devastation be happening on your doorstep without you actually seeing any physical signs of it. Nature has a bizarre way about her, that’s for sure. But as you say, amidst the sadness and grief (it took me two days to write this post through tears and a jumbled, uncomprehending mind) it is inspiring to see our nation pull together to do what we can to help each other out.

The Aussie spirit always prevails. Sending you hugs.

Kelly

3 Colin 02.10.09 at 5:35 pm

kelly,
I’m with you feeling shocked and disorientated by by this tragedy,
Dad

4 Barbara Swafford 02.10.09 at 7:03 pm

Hi Kelly - This tragedy leaves me speechless. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Australia. What’s happened is horrific.

Your post comforts me as you were one of the Australian bloggers I was concerned about. Stay safe.

Hugs and prayers to you and yours,

Barbara

Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..How Do You Measure Your Success

5 Ulla Hennig 02.10.09 at 7:18 pm

I am living in Berlin, Germany, and of course the news have broadcasting the bushfires. But it is such a difference reading about in in your blog - and my wishes go to you and all the Australian people. Take care!

Ulla Hennig’s last blog post..The Book is Dead, long Live the Book!

6 Robin 02.10.09 at 7:46 pm

Hi Kelly - thanks for writing this. I haven’t even been able to reply to comments on my blog - I just keep looking at Twitter and the news websites.

Everyone here (in both Melbourne and Central Victoria) are stunned and sad. I’ve come up to Mum’s to spend a couple of days with her - 57 homes were lost only about 4 km from her house. The heat and wind on Saturday were very, very scary - both here and in Melbourne.

I’ve heard from a policewoman that many more people are homeless than the homes destroyed, because gas and electricity are off, houses are so filthy you can’t go in them, water tanks are unusable until they are cleaned and certified - or there is no tank anymore. She has been working with evacuees - the local vets have been really good about looking after people’s pets for them - she has done a fair bit of ferrying messages about “Spot” or “Gumpy”.

No need for me to describe the horror we have been seeing on the TV and reading about - it’s incomprehensible. And as you say, whole areas haven’t even been searched yet.

There hasn’t been smoke in Melbourne because the fires only picked up in the evening, after the wind changed to a south-westerly - so the smoke blew away from Melbourne. The fire in Bendigo happened really quickly - there wasn’t even time to fight it - just get people out.

Hugs, Kel - R x

Robin’s last blog post..The Genie That Keeps On Giving

7 Lance 02.10.09 at 8:29 pm

Kelly (and all the fine people of Australia),
My heart goes out to you during these difficult days. I pray for your safety, and for a quick end to this destruction going on.

Be safe, Kelly…

Lance’s last blog post..What Do I Know About Fabric?

8 Kelly 02.10.09 at 8:30 pm

@Dad
xx

@Barbara
Thanks for your concern and well wishes. Hugs returned.

@Robin
So glad to hear from you. Have been checking your site to see if you’ve been around. I knew your mum lived in country Victoria and I was worried. I didn’t even think about all the people made homeless by their houses being inhabitable from smoke damage. The impact this is going to have on the state and the country is enormous. Stay in touch yeah? xx

Kelly

9 Vered 02.11.09 at 4:16 am

I saw this in our local news yesterday. I just emailed you and Robin to ask if you were OK. I’m glad and relieved both of you are.

It’s horrible.

Vered’s last blog post..Sex Sells? You Tell Me

10 Dot 02.11.09 at 4:22 am

I was so sorry to read about this in yesterday’s newspaper, and today they were saying that they think it all started with arson. I’m glad to see you and Robin and your families are all okay, but you still suffer haveing your own countrymen/women dying. I hope they get this under control very soon. You’re in my thoughts.

Dot’s last blog post..Time to Celebrate!

11 Kelly 02.11.09 at 7:34 am

@Ulla
Thank you for commenting and thank you for your thoughts. I hope to see you back here again.

@Lance
Australia is a huge country and I live far from the fires, so no worries about my safety. But, like you, I hope this ends soon and the affected people can start to go about rebuilding their lives. Though when you’ve lost everything, including sometimes most of your family, it is beyond my comprehension how you do that.

@Vered
Both fine, though I was worried about Rob. Haven’t checked my email, but thanks for thinking of us. x

@Dot
There were many fires and yes, some were started by arsonists, or re-started once fire fighters put them out. I didn’t mention this deliberately. hese people are sick and will not occupy my thoughts at a time like this. Our energy needs to go to the victims and heroes of this tragedy. The police will catch up with these murderers or karma will. You cannot escape your actions - I believe that with every fiber of my being.

Thanks for your support Dot. x

Kelly

12 Roz Mitchell 02.11.09 at 8:06 am

Kelly as you are Im numb from shock and the tears keep flowing hoping at the end of the tears there will be justice done to those crettens that started some of these fires.My heartfelt love and hope go out to those that have suffered and lost all.The animals that are being looked after by those kind and thoughtful people.The many people who have rallyed around our own and encumbered them in open arms .
Amids this tragidy I can say I am proud of my fellow country man and proud to call myself Australian.Thankyou Kelly for making this possible for myself to realease my hurt.

13 Marelisa 02.11.09 at 8:38 am

Hi Kelly: I have been seeing this in the news. Fire is so scary, I can’t light a match ( I have one of those long lighters where you just press a button and the flame turns on a good six inches away). And it’s so volatile. I’m very sorry that Australia is going through this, I hope it’s over soon.

14 Jenny Mannion 02.11.09 at 9:17 am

Hi Kel,
So happy to hear you and Robin are ok. I have been hearing about and feeling for the people affected by this. Fire is so scary as Mare said. I am grateful so many people are rising to the occassion to help. In times like these the good that can be seen is in how people come together to do whatever they can. I will continue to send good energy and thoughts to the people affected by this tragedy.
Much love, xo
Jenny

Jenny Mannion’s last blog post..Claim Your Personal Power

15 BC Doan 02.11.09 at 10:02 am

It’s devastating news, and I’m also sending prayer to those people in Victoria, and you a hug!

BC Doan’s last blog post..Are Your Back-Links Keep Readers Away

16 Tim Brownson 02.12.09 at 12:22 am

The fact is, this is an horrific tragedy that we seem to see somewhere on the planet on a regular basis. It brings it all home when it’s in our own country. It goes without saying that the rest of the world is watching and hoping things start to improve.

The real point of this comment though is to address the guilt issues. Isn’t it weird that we can feel so guilty in such times. I remember after the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas in 2004 (I think) feeling really guilty. I was sat at home celebrating Boxing Day, drinking way too much, eating way too much and having fun when all of a sudden the news broke. I also felt guilty.

Of course there is no reason to feel guilty ever, it’s a waste of energy, but sometimes we just do. So even though I’ll say don’t, I know it’ll have no real effect ;-)
Tim Brownson’s last blog post..The Map Is Not The Territory

17 Kelly 02.12.09 at 4:04 pm

@Roz
It really is inspiring the way the nation has pulled together over this. That is a positive that we have to hold onto I guess.

@Marelisa
I actually have trouble lighting matches too. Fire is scary and very unpredictable.

@Jenny
Thanks. We need all the positive energy we can get .x

@B.C
Hugs are gratefully received. :)

@Tim
Your comment made me smile. Guilt is a strange emotion and while definitely pointless at times like these, I think it’s a natural human reaction and one that can’t be helped. Although, as a coach, wouldn’t you say it’s a plus that I can identify my feelings and observe them with detachment, isn’t it? :)

Kelly

18 mark_hayward 02.13.09 at 7:28 am

Hi Kelly - I have been thinking about all my Aussie blogging friends lately and am very happy to hear that you and your family are okay.

It appears as though the firefighters and everyone involved are doing a heroic job! Hopefully rains will come soon.

Take care and stay safe.

mark_hayward’s last blog post..How I Use Social Media to Promote My Business

19 Evelyn Lim 02.14.09 at 7:08 pm

I came by your blog 2 days ago just to check that you are okay. However, I got interrupted by my kids and had to tend to them.

I’m so glad that you are all right!!!

Hugs and prayers to you and all affected by the tragedy!

Take care,
Evelyn

Evelyn Lim’s last blog post..What The Movie Benjamin Button Taught Me About Time

20 Dr. J 02.15.09 at 9:07 am

So sorry you are going through this tragic time! Living in Florida, we are no stranger to severe fires and hurricanes. We all send our hopeful wishes that it soon will be under control with no further loss of life.

Dr. J’s last blog post..Nibbles: Obese moms have higher risk of birth defects, health scares don’t change weight much, and the high cost of healthy eating in Canada

21 Kelly 02.15.09 at 11:08 am

@Mark
Yes, there have been many heroes from this whole thing. Here in Sydney we have had days of rain. Unfortunately it’s hundreds of kilometres away from where it’s needed.

@Evelyn
Thank you. Hugs gratefully received. x

@Dr. J
Thanks for your well wishes and for stopping by SHE-POWER. Come again. :)

Kelly

22 Suzie Cheel 02.15.09 at 5:58 pm

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for writing this and like you I feel for all the people and wish we could send all the rain we have had up here this week to Victoria it would have put the fires out.

Hugs
Suzie

Suzie Cheel’s last blog post..Law of Attraction:Perfect Match

23 Donna 02.16.09 at 3:28 pm

Hi Kel,
at the time of the fires I was travelling and when I got home to Victoria the sight was just devestating. Driving through Gippsland area’s were burnt out along both sides of the roads, the tree’s and grasses blackened with the smell of smoke heavy in the air.
On arrival at home, which was no where near the fires my grass was dead, the leaves on my trees had dried out and withered , no wonder they say Marysville and Kinglake were incendiary devices. Like the rest of the our nation I am pround of my fellow Australians and how they are all helping each other without a second thought.
By the way on coming to work today the smell of smoke is once again heavy in the air.

24 Cath Lawson 02.17.09 at 1:37 am

Hi Kelly - what a terrible tragedy. I have been avoiding reading anything lately and I had no idea this had happened. And I’ve just been reading that some of this was caused deliberately. How can people be so cruel?

Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Desperate Business Owners & Media Bullshit

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