Black Saturday

AI didn’t realise the extent of the disaster. Sure, there were bushfires. There always are. And there were some deaths. Well, that’s tragic but it wasn’t that big a number…I guess…

It was only when I got into uni the next day and read all the online news that it really begun to sink in. For one thing, the death toll was higher than the 1983 Ash Wednesday toll of 75. In fact, by that afternoon, the toll was about double that. One of the bushfires was reported to be hundreds of kilometers long. I can’t even picture a fire that big. The firefighters couldn’t get close to the flames, they were as hot as 1200 C. Experts are even saying that the energy released by the fires were the equivalent of ~400 Hiroshima atomic bombs. What can you do? You can’t survive that. The people who chose to fight the flames didn’t have a chance. And the fires came so fast that many of those who had decided to leave early didn’t have a chance to leave. By the time they realised the fire was approaching it was too late.
I think the current toll is now 200 but it will rise over the next week. And there’s concern over our water supply. Melbourne has the best water in the country but it’s going to get contaminated by ash. Some of the most affected dams will apparently take 30 years to recover. Our water storages are already as low as 33%. I wonder how much drinkable water will be left after this, and if there is enough for everyone.

My family and friends weren’t caught up in the fires but it has still affected me so badly. So many people have lost their homes and their lives. And those fires could easily have sprung up near my family. It could even be next year.
And you can see it on Facebook too. Statuses had messages like “my sister was evacuated”, “I was evacuated again” and “still safe, fires are about 6k away”. The one that struck a cord was this one – “mum warned some friends in Kinglake who had no idea about the fires, they lost their home but their family is safe”.
People have been submitting photos of smokey skies, red suns and burnt houses.
I can’t watch the news anymore. They are publishing photos of the dead. And some of the stories…so tragic. One channel played a phone convo. with one of their reporters who was trying to find his wife. The last he heard, she was screaming that she was going to grab a towel and run for the dam. He didn’t know if she was alive or not (of course, at that point they knew she was alive and told viewers after playing the recording). The emotion in his voice…I don’t think they should have played that…

What really adds icing to the cake is that some of those fires were lit. Weather conditions predicted to be much worse than Ash Wednesday and people felt the need to light fires.
I can almost accept terrorists. They passionately believe in what they are fighting for and lets face it, deep down we think of them as foreign scum. But these people, they are locals. They are ordinary, everyday people. The people you say hello to down the street. They don’t passionately believe in whatever or want to kill you. They just want to stare at the mesmerizing flames or feel important by fighting fires or just lack the switch that prevents you from listening to the urges to drop a glass or shout in a library. And then there are the copycats after the event. The teen boys who want to be cool or prove themselves or who knows what other reason.

And then there is my dad. I’m sure there was no harm intended. The past weekend he sent an email about Auckland’s hot 32.4 C.

Well if the weather isn’t hot enough for you in Australia, then spare a thought for us poor Aucklanders – We equalled our hottest day ever of 32.4 last recorded in 1872!!!

I’m sorry…spare a thought?! Oh the poor Aucklanders and their one day of heat. The poor things, they must be so sick of rain and it must be so boring without bushfires.
After hearing nothing from him for months, he decides to strike up a dialogue with some sort of bragging. Talk about bad timing. I just can’t think of a reply to that email that isn’t angry. So I’ll stay silent.
Maybe I’m getting too worked up over it. I’ve had such a shit week (completely unrelated to the fires) that I’m getting upset over stupid things.


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