Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bushfires in Victoria - Black Saturday Feb 7 - one year on

This is not going to be the light and easy post that I normally make. Admittedly I've also cut & pasted from the 123 messageboard because I've typed it once already - and it's a sobering bit of typing. I don't think I've quite covered everything. The Bushfires hit Victoria just 6 weeks after I'd started blogging. I posted my thoughts and impressions on the monday with photos. We'd had a lead up to Black Saturday, by a week of abnormally high temperatures. We as a community are not that naive, and although expecting bushfires, did not expect one so large, so fast, so ferocious, so deadly.

One year on.
I remember the heat building the days before Black Saturday - knowing that it was going to be a bad bushfire day. Having it in the back of my mind that there would be a slight possibility that 'a fire' could come over our hill or close enough that I'd need to take the boys and get out of the area - possibly to MIL's down on the coast.
I remember, telling Martin & the boys that it would not be a good idea to go to the swimming hole we'd found the week before near Drouin.
I remember watching the smoke, trying to find out if it was coming our way.
I remember knowing that our neighbour, a CFA dude would not leave his wife and girls in danger - as they stayed put, so did we.
I remember using the internet to track incidents on the CFA site.
I remember worrying more about Drouin and Lang Lang than Kinglake.
I remember listening to the radio, hearing that the Princes Highway was blocked to traffic, just a few miles up the road.
I remember thinking - we're in outer suburbia - we should be fine (and remembering the stories of Canberra a few years previously)
I remember waking up on the Sunday, to the gradual news that whole communities were lost - which meant a whopping loss of property and more devastaingly, loss of life.
I remember getting the Herald Sun newspaper for the pictoral coverage - I don't buy newspapers. I think I still have that issue somewhere.
I remember the photos posted on the 123 board - links to footage shot. This is where I came to make sure that our stitching family were safe.
I remember that Melisa's parents had lost their home the week before all this devastation - we were already rallying to support them any way we could.
I remember photos of Sam the Koala.
I remember the shock of realising just how far-reaching these fires were.
I remember calling my father to make sure he was ok - he had been working on the SES radio room for the day.
I remember callling my sister - and her speaking to me - she worked a 20 hour shift that day in the CFA radio room, helping with the Horsham fires. She knows people who were directly affected by those fires. She also knows people killed in Kinglake - she had lived there for 15 years. The farm she lived at is no more.
I wept.
I remember listening to radio reports - how people were on mobile phones to loved ones as fire swept over them.
I wept.
I remember reading stories of survivors - and of those who lost families.
I wept.
I remember the days of not knowing the full total of lives lost.
I wept.
I remember the feeling of helplessness - not having had to evacuate, not knowing anybody directly, not being able to supply my time to help. Not being financial enough to donate more than a few dollars at a time. Not having space in my home to host somebody. Not owning a caravan to donate to somebody now homeless. Not having clothing to donate as everything had gone to the thrift shop two weeks previously.
I remember two weeks after the fire, going to that same waterhole the boys had wanted to go to.
I remember seeing and smelling the scorched earth right up to that waterhole.
I remember seeing regrowth - the aussie bush is like that - sometimes it needs fire to re-generate.
I remember travelling down the highway towards Warragul and Moe and seeing the line where the fire stopped and crossed.
I've not travelled to visit Marysville or Kinglake yet.

I remember the sense of Aussie Mateship as the community rallied to support the victims of the fires. I know some people will never recover, but there are scores of families rebuilding their lives.



Pauline said...

That's such a moving post, Bronny. It makes the trivia of life not have the same importance it has, just remembering the devastation of those horrid fires.

stitchinfiend said...

Wonderful post Bronny. ((((Hugs))))

Bette said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. I can only imagine the horror of those days.

Have tried to email you but I don't have Outlook on my computer. Can you send me your email address please?

Gabi said...

I remember lots of these things too. Also the caravans appearing in our town from the people who lost everything and couldn't find a place to stay. I remember when the day became dark. It was day, and you couldn't see your the house across anymore...dark as the night. Only the fires were glowing.

riona said...

I had seen another post on the 7th ... a photo of the Australian flag and the simple words "We remember..."
My heart and my prayers go out to you and all who have been traumatized by this horrific natural disaster ... could you post a site that one may use to donate to ongoing aid to those who have sufferred losses? Right now the Haiti earthquake victims are in everyone's minds and hearts ... as they should be, certainly ... but people tend to forget that rebuilding is a long process. The Australian Bushfire victims still need help today just as the Haitian earthquake victims will still need help in 2011. Sadly, in the busy-ness of our everyday lives, we tend to forget that simple fact.

Suna said...

I remember the updates you posted to needlegals when this was happening. Then as now it was very moving and also both terrifying and oddly unreal. The Norwegian media did report from it, but not much, and they certainly didn't manage to convey the human and emotional aspect of it.

I reckon this was a healthy read, even if it will leave me sleepless for a few hours tonight.