Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fires in Australia - 1st Person Account - Chapter 4

By Guest Blogger Adrianne Newman who lives in the south of Australia, in the Australian state of Victoria. This is near Melbourne. Ms. Newman is an American who has lived in Australia for about 30 years. Glenys and Ms. Newman are partners.

This was date marked 2/14/09 at 8:39 PM

Things are on the mend, although some folks are still doing vigilent
alerts because 19 fires are still burning but in National Parks and
not near towns.

We got some birdseed from down where Tanya used to work and have put
water and seed out for the increasing number of birds that are coming
back to the neighbourhood. I don't know where they went for safety.
It is nice to hear them in the morning again considering that we live
on Bird Street!!

Deaths still at 181, and ~7,000 homeless but lots of telethons, and
ways to give your cash to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross who
seem to be heading up this relief situation. Kinglake and communities
have had volunteers descend and give them generators, food, clothes,
you name it and lots of folks there to do counselling, which in some
ways, I reckon we all need..

More 'facts' are coming to light in that the powelines went down
around Kilmore and evidently that is what set the initial fires north
of us that were swept south in the gale force winds. We were right in
that the wind change that was bringing the fire towards us wound up
turing around in a northeast direction destroying Kinglake and those
other areas.

Healsville is still on alert and the army and firefighters from the US
and distant places are working feveriously to create huge firebreaks
around Melbourne's water supply. Evidently the trees up that way are
Mountain Ash and will die if fire strikes....the bloody Eucalypts just
resprout and so does the bracken. Evidently to recreate trees in the
water catchments will use far more water than the older trees so much
of the state's resources are being used for that.

Talked to my Mom who asked, "where did they get the water" and Glenys
heard a story of kids frolicking in their swimming pool only to have
Elvis, the water bearing helicopter, descend on them. They flew out
of the pool, Elvis took all the water, and off he went. And a friend
of mine from work has a really groovy photo on her phone of Big Elvis
and 2 little Elvis's hovering behind to take their turn, taking the
water out of the dam on her dairy farm. So in answer to Mom's
question....wherever they could.

Glenys also heard of a story about a guy who has a hobby farm up the
bush. He was there before the fires struck and he brought his 15 head
of cattle across the street to a vacant paddock and then went to fight
the fires. They battled all night and he heard the most awful noises
but they saved the house. Next morning he went across the street and
all the cattle were in the dam, not even burned, and since he has
brought them back they are very affectionate and want cuddles and to
not be far from him.

We have that many helicopters flying over head to and fro, Glenys and
I are using the MASH line....'incoming' and run out to see if we can
see who they are. Elvis flies slow and is very whump, whump, whump so
you know when they are overhead. He flew over this morning so things
are 'still crook in Tootgarook' as the saying goes.

After hearing about the financial crisis and all the gluttony it is
lovely to see all the generosity and goodness that still is out there
in our communities.

We'll get through this but it will take a while and much goodwill on
the part of all of us to make it happen. And I wait with much
anticipation for the first green shoots, as after all, this is what
regenerates the flora of Australia. Will be interesting to see what
weed seeds that have been laying dormant in the soil and actually need
fire to germinate, pop their heads up.....they will be most welcome!

1 comment:

Junosmom said...

Thanks for posting these, Chuck. It makes the news more personal and real.