Thursday, February 12, 2009

The worst day in our history - no question

I've been trying to blog about this for a few days now. But its incredibly hard to put into words, everything that has happened. For awhile it seemed like there was just a fire, a bad one but not catastrophic. Then it seemed like everywhere was on fire. People were warned not to go down the Great Ocean Road or the Mornington Peninsula in case they were trapped. Saturday afternoon there were no reports about any deaths, then Saturday night it started filtering in. The death toll is staggering. I was worried for family for awhile, and some of them were fighting fires. A little bit of property was lost, but everyone is okay.

So it's been a sad week, and I've been murmuring along with everyone at work about how terrible it is, while it all felt so surreal. It wasn't until today when I sat down to eat my lunch and I unfolded the Herald Sun that it really got to me. A picture of a tiny little eight month old baby boy that died did it. I couldn't read the article. Or the other 3/4 of the paper. I managed to keep it together until I got home, and so now I'm having a good cry. 

Actually Crikey has described the front page as cynical and manipulative.

How did John Brumby know the day before it was going to be our worst day in history? I feel bad for bagging the guy now, but announcing it on Friday sounded over dramatic to me at the time. 

The bush was so dry. When we went camping a few weeks ago I could snap off largish tree branches with one hand. 

There are so many variables that caused the fires to be as bad as they were. Namely the drought, the wind and the heat. If the drought wasn't as bad, it wouldn't be so dry, even if the drought was bad, if the wind wasn't so bad, if it wasn't so the blame game starts. If only that early warning system had been put in place, if only the greenies hadn't been against clearing around homes, if only people had been better prepared.

But it seems like it didn't matter what anyone did. The best prepared people died along with the unprepared. All of those variables just came together in the worst possible way. 

Right now, the CFA is working to stop the two major fires, the Kinglake complex and the Bunyip State Forest merging together. 

Here is a photo from the Herald Sun taken from Kinglake looking towards the city. Kinglake, like Marysville
was pretty much completely destroyed.

Reports are 1 in 5 Marysville residents died in the fires. That's just how quick it was, people didn't have time to decide whether to stay or go.

The great thing is that the support being generated is just phenomenal. We haven't done anything yet. I'm not sure what to do. Donating blood I can do, but like Daniel said they're full at the moment, and its probably better to wait. Money, we can give but it looks like plenty of that is being generated. We got an email at work today from our site leadership who said that they really need formal clothes so people who lost everything, have something to wear to funerals. I could only shake my head.

So along with it being Victoria's worst day, it looks like Australia's worst day.



Andrew said...

With a few exceptions, it does seem to be bringing out the best in people.

Daniel said...

Re: your link to Andrew Bolt, one should always be cautious about anything he writes.

In this particular case, the counter-argument apparently goes like this (scraped from a discussion on Facebook about an SMH article by Miranda Devine that tried to make much the same point Bolt is):

If only the silly idiots realised that this fire was crowning, not burning through the undergrowth, given the temperature and low humidity the oils would have been evapourating and creating an oil haze tens of metres in the air that was like a ligther with the button pressed but the flint not rolled. No amount of prescribed burning could have prevented this.Prescribed burning clears the undergrowth, not the canopy. Not to mention that the DSE tries it's hardest to do prescribed burning but they need suitable climatic conditions to do it. Does anyone remember the outroar when the controlled burn got out of hand at Wilson's Prom a few years back. Oh the hipocrasy, everyone is looking for their claim to fame, a piece of glory and trying to blame someone, anyone consider it was the hottest day ever in the state and our landscape is designed to burn.

I don't know enough about it to be able to comment, but that commenter seems to know more about it than me. And I'll say again: take anything Bolt says with a grain (or preferably a truckload) of salt.