Make no mistake. The fires that are ravaging Victoria in southern Australia constitute the worst disaster in peacetime history in our country.
The death toll is nearing 200, with many expecting it could reach up to 300. The tragic consequences will be more severe than even the fateful Bali Bombings in 2002. For an account of what it was like for those living and breathing this nightmare, read an account here from Gary Hughes, a senior writer in The Australian newspaper.
The enormity of what’s happening back in my homeland only really sunk in on Sunday night for me when the coverage was given airtime right upfront of both CNN and NBC’s news coverage.
Wow I thought. This must be big.
It’s easy to become somewhat removed from things when you live 20,000 miles from home. And despite regular updates by text and email from family and friends, the penny hadn’t really dropped for me. Until I saw it competing with Obama’s stimulus package updates on major US networks. That’s when I realized how catastrophic this situation was.
Us Aussies are a pretty resilient bunch. And what’s been heartening and interesting to monitor over the last day in particular is the rallying of support to help those whose lives have been completely uprooted by the fires.
I’ve had emails and requests for help from sporting bodies, charitable organizations and even friends who are doing what they can to help their fellow Australians.
I even have a mate who literally (on the weekend) got back from his honeymoon dig in and do his bit. He owns a chain of cafes in Geelong, Victoria, and has already organized an event this Friday which is donating the entire proceeds (staff are volunteering their efforts) to the victims and families whose lives have been turned upside down. Within days he has several sponsors on board, including the local newspaper and knowing that he doesnt do things in halves is set to raise a few needed dollars. Great stuff.
There isn’t really a fundraising angle to my blog today. No learning’s. No cryptic messages.
Just an acknowledgement that this event has changed the lives of many forever.
If you’d like to chip and made a donation, I’d suggest you do what I did and make a gift to the Australian Red Cross. There are many who need your support right now.