Australian Mefites and the bushfires January 2, 2020 8:24 PM   Subscribe

I had been wanting to post something like this, thanks divabat.
posted by peakes at 3:42 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

(It seems the "donate money" option on Givit won't take my US or French bank cards...or hopefully the server is just overwhelmed at the moment? I'll try again later but if anyone can suggest another avenue for monetary donations I'd appreciate it, the Australian Red Cross donation site has been bouncing me back too since yesterday.)
posted by peakes at 4:04 AM on January 3, 2020

I have been watching this news, and feeling so helpless. Best of luck, Australia.
posted by theora55 at 10:11 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks for your care divabat. Following the fire news is doing my head in, although I am safe in Melbourne. Friends and relatives in the danger areas are all safe so far. My upcoming summer side gig in the Victorian Alps has not yet been cancelled, I don't know what they are waiting for?!

*free hugs* to any who need them.
posted by Coaticass at 1:18 PM on January 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

There's a warning for where I live (northern suburbs, Melbourne) and I'm keeping my eye on the Vic Emergency site.

Scared and upset.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:42 PM on January 3, 2020 [5 favorites]

daybeforetheday, I'm scared & upset & I'm on the other side of the planet! I've got several friends in Australia, (internet & IRL expats) & I'm concerned for the lot of you. Take care, & here's hoping your govt. & the world wakes up to this current emergency & the wider global climate disaster that's underway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:46 PM on January 3, 2020

Thanks for posting, divabat.

Where I am in the west of Victoria we're pretty OK but have had our share of small fires- the emergency app beeps and we all pull out phones to check. All the crop has been taken off around us which is a bit of a relief- where we live we can see the paddocks on the edge of town behind the houses on the other side of the street.
It's smoky here today- could be from any number of fires around the place.

It's definitely reshaping my perspective on those small summer injustices. Such as: our evaporative air con died- we still have reverse cycle and we can still run it- not worried about ember attack. We've had to sleep in other beds due to the heat- at least our bed is still there to go back to, not burnt.

Several friends family are being evacuated or live in the tourist leave zone, it's a bit nerve wracking. My uncle who isn't usually a big facebook user made a point of marking himself 'safe' which was nice to see.

It was a bit jarring to read the statement from the Premier reassuring people in Mallacoota that the Navy is very experienced in evacuating people from their experience overseas- my brain filled in 'such as in warzones and also natural disasters'.

Good article on Scomo's similarities to Bush with Hurricane Katrina:

It's also really frustrating seeing people on both sides of politics get the knives out on social media.

Bushfire crisis in pictures (nothing gruesome)
posted by freethefeet at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2020 [6 favorites]

And 3,000 ADF reservists have been called up to assist. This is pretty big: first time in living memory, possibly the first time in Australia's history.
posted by freethefeet at 7:39 PM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah I live in the northern suburbs of Melbourne too - I'm inner-city so I'm not at risk of fire, but it is on my exact train line so that's kinda scary. It's more the smoke that worries me, given my dust and smoke allergies, but so far it seems OK.

I'm honestly kinda blase about it. Part of this is that my family comes from a country of epic flooding and monsoons (including one that indirectly almost maimed me as a kid: monsoon -> collapsed tree -> collapsed electric pole -> power surge -> ceiling fan crashing down where I just got up from a second ago) to the point that it's kinda old hat. Also, I grew up with a lot of haze every few years, and the air quality in my area seems super clean in comparison. But part of it also is that when it comes to potential disasters, I tend to focus on practicalities first, like working out what I'll bring if I need to evacuate and where I could go to - it's only after the storm has passed that I allow the emotions to come in.

A lot of my friends are worried though, and the social media feeds are full-on to the point of exhaustion. There are a few fundraising shows in the works as well as some inter-community help being organised. I don't really have faith in any Government change, but at least we can help each other.
posted by divabat at 8:47 PM on January 3, 2020 [6 favorites]

Roll call on northern suburbs Melbourne too - further out than I was a few weeks ago, so closer to some of the craziness like the Mill Park and Sunbury fires. There have been specific air quality warnings for my area - some geographical quirk about the Northern Hume council area means that the smoke has kind of hung densely here for weeks.

My folks are in Castlemaine, so I'm watching the Vic Emergency app like a hawk - they're retirment age, and Dad is not well (progressive deafness and blindness, glaucoma, mental health issues, and still recovering from a terrifying pneumonia in September), so I'm basically on high alert for the slightest danger.

Dad grew up in a town just outside of Corryong, up on the northern Vic border. It's not there any more. My childhood was in Moe, Maffra and Sale, west of the main firefront in Gippsland, but I know Bruthen and Buchan and Mallacoota and Cann River pretty well. I've still got family (and some students) who live out that way.

Meanwhile, friends evacuating from Broulee, Bega, family in Nowra... I feel helpless. Not even going near the politics of it all, either...
posted by prismatic7 at 11:42 PM on January 3, 2020 [7 favorites]

Also, Celeste Barber's fundraiser (slFB) has gone off tap - heading towards $9million.
posted by prismatic7 at 11:50 PM on January 3, 2020

Thank you for this post, divabat.

I'm north of Sydney in an area that's currently ok but who knows, really? We're all classified as bushfire prone here. People overseas keep asking if I'm safe and to 'stay safe' and I am but it's one thing to keep a good distance from current fires but who knows where they next starts? It's been over two months or this.

When we get a 'catastrophic' rated day the advice is to leave early if in bushfire prone land which makes me want to laugh hysterically. Go where?? Everywhere is dry, everywhere has bush and I can't exactly take 2 cats on the train to central Sydney. And you have to live despite wondering when you'll turn and see smoke rising on a nearby hill.

We had a nice week or so when the thick smoke went away and it was so nice to see blue sky after so much grey.

And poor North Coast NSW don't even exist in the media anymore. Their firefighters are helping out elsewhere and their residents are alone to get through recovery. So much devastation.
posted by kitten magic at 4:21 AM on January 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

It must be so weird for the reservists actually getting called up too. Not what they expected!
posted by kitten magic at 4:23 AM on January 4, 2020

Any of you out there with witchy powers, or who are on good terms with spirits, or even have a spare monkey paw lying around: we could use rain, a lot of rain, all the rain
posted by um at 4:57 AM on January 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm over on the west coast and although there are fires here it's not too different from the usual bushfire season, just early. I have colleagues and friends and family all up and down the east coast though. I wish there was more I could do. These fires are the exact thing I've been worried about since I first learned about climate change.

It's possible that some Aussie Mefites don't have internet or power to be able to check in.

I've already donated to the volunteer firies and the Red Cross (I figure they have expertise in natural disasters?). Are there any national wildlife rescue organisations I can give to, or just the state based ones?
posted by harriet vane at 6:51 AM on January 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are there any national wildlife rescue organisations I can give to, or just the state based ones?

As far as I know, there's no national wildlife rescue org- it's all state based. For folks overseas, WIRES, Wildlife Victoria and ACT Wildlife are reasonable options. Anyone have a handle on Queensland? Most of the orgs I can find are regional, or state wide for a specific animal.
posted by zamboni at 11:07 AM on January 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

One of the above links is to the RSPCA in NSW!
posted by divabat at 1:06 PM on January 4, 2020

I think RSPCA NSW doesn't do wildlife rescue (they refer folks to WIRES, Sydney Wildlife, and the Native Animal Trust Fund), although I think RSPCA QLD does.
posted by zamboni at 2:37 PM on January 4, 2020

zamboni: the link above is to their specific bushfire appeal - they're helping people with pets and livestock relocate safely
posted by divabat at 2:42 PM on January 4, 2020

Also a very worthy cause. I was responding to harriet vane’s question about wildlife rescue orgs.
posted by zamboni at 3:10 PM on January 4, 2020

We're in a high risk area near Castlemaine but it's been pretty quiet around here thankfully. It's much drier than usual though with what's typically the worst of summer still to come. You start to get a little anxious everytime you hear the alert ping of the Vic emergency app.

Wife (firefighter) was deployed to Gippsland before Christmas, prior to things getting crazy. She'll have to do another stint soon.

Thanks for the links divabat. Stay safe everyone.
posted by gooddoggy at 6:39 PM on January 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

My cousin lost her house.

The fires are bringing back lots of memories of Black Saturday 2009, which still haunts me. My aunt, uncle and cousins came within a hair's breath of dying. A last minute wind change saved them - but took out their friend's neighbouring house and beloved pets instead. On their road, only their house and one other were left standing.

My aunt - a nurse - went out between firefronts to find and help survivors. She is still so traumatised by what she saw, she's not been able to work since.

Because all the local phone towers and lines were incinerated, it was 2 days before we knew if they'd survived. We only found out they were okay because an old school friend of my uncle managed to contact him by phone at a recovery centre, then drove an hour to my parent's house on the off chance my father still lived there, as he remembered. They'd last spoken 20+ years ago.

When we were able to visit my uncle's house, smoke emanated from cracks in the ground, where tree roots continued to smoulder. Their verandah (porch) was pocked with scorchmarks left by flying embers. All that was left of their motorbike was a solidified pool of molten metal. The scene was nothing short of apocalyptic.

My heart goes out to all those experiencing loss and grief at this dreadful time. I mourn the millions of animals killed, and hectares of habitat lost. I rage at the many appalling contributions made to this crisis by our politicians and polluters. I thank our fireys and support services for their backbreaking, and largely voluntary, work.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 11:17 PM on January 4, 2020 [12 favorites]

Wow brushtailedphascogale. Thinking of you and others for whom this fire brings back memories of Black Saturday.

Speaking of communication, from tomorrow (Jan 6) Telstra is making payphone calls free across the nation until further notice.
posted by freethefeet at 12:22 AM on January 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

For the international mefites - currently the big cities are mostly OK, apart from the air pollution. Canberra has the worst air quality in the world today. Sydney hasn’t been great either. I keep a mask in my bag at all times now. A couple of people have died from smoke induced asthma but there’s no way of knowing how many people have been affected.

The regional areas are being absolutely smashed - a lot of the east coast of the country. Virtually all of the massive national parks around the Sydney metro area have burned or are burning, and it’s only by the hard work of the rural fire service the the towns in the blue mountains haven’t been wiped of the map by two fire fronts converging.

Our government continues to deny climate change is a problem that they need to act on. They’ve just started denying that they deny climate change. It’s an oroborus of anti science gaslighting.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:23 AM on January 5, 2020 [8 favorites]

Brushtailedphascogale, that's such an important aspect of this - the trauma which those who lose houses or are working on the frontlines will be feeling. Many people still haven't recovered from Black Saturday because we don't really recognise what type of support is necessary. I see that Egg Boy and Magda Szubanski are working on a mental health fundraiser in case anyone needs help with that. Or if anyone just needs to talk, my MeMail is open.
posted by harriet vane at 2:46 AM on January 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Here in Melbourne it's 14 degrees (57 Fahrenheit) and raining. At least some of the rain is making its way over to the high country and to Gippsland, but from what I can see on the radar, not that much. Still, every little helps.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:32 AM on January 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I am safe in Sydney, but my parents are in the process of moving to the Lithgow area. They'll probably be fine too, but it's really not something I'm exactly comfortable about, given everything.
posted by Acid Communist at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Anyone heard from smoke?
posted by freethefeet at 3:55 PM on January 5, 2020

We had rain in the Hunter last night. It didn't pour, it pattered, but it went on for a couple of hours playing sweet music in the downpipes as it made its way to the tank. It's been so long since I heard that sound.
posted by valetta at 4:08 PM on January 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Keep thinking my glasses are dirty but it's the *&^%ing smoke.
posted by Coaticass at 5:46 PM on January 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Even though the smoke isn't as bad in Melbourne, I've been stuck inside due to pre-existing pulmonary fibrosis that I can't risk exacerbating. I feel deep sadness for everyone that's been impacted by these terrible conditions. I feel rage at the absolute shits currently ruining the country.
posted by michswiss at 8:24 PM on January 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Anyone heard from smoke?

Smoke's house is near mine: in an area not directly affected or likely to be directly affected, except by the smoke (ha). There's no significant bushland right near us, but the blue mountain fires are only about 50km away, so it's pretty smoggy here.
posted by lollusc at 8:44 PM on January 5, 2020 [6 favorites]

Has anyone heard from flabdablet in Gippsland?
posted by unearthed at 12:10 AM on January 6, 2020

AQI has hit over 260 at my place. I can't go outside (asthma). I feel frightened and helpless and stupid and I'm sorry for getting all freaked out in this thread which about looking after people in actual danger but I just needed to put my feelings in words.
posted by prismatic7 at 12:41 AM on January 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

Has anyone heard from flabdablet in Gippsland?

Hi unearthed - numerous MeFi posts from flabdablet, variously incisive, informative and amusing up to and including today, can be found here: Merry-Christmas-Australia
posted by valetta at 1:26 AM on January 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I experimented with a P2 mask yesterday, having extreme cabin fever from not going outside in like 10 days. I rode my bicycle wearing the mask and I think it helped a bit, but the seal was definitely not perfect, my glasses kept fogging up, and it got so incredibly sweaty under the mask. And I still kept coughing the whole time. I don't think it's a viable solution. Maybe for short walks.
posted by lollusc at 12:22 PM on January 6, 2020

Alive and well in inner Sydney. I work on the outskirts, and we've already been closed down twice so far this summer, and the hepa filters for the labs are struggling. The smoke and haze has been quite demoralising, effecting physical and mental health, it was so nice to go back to blue skies in Perth over Christmas.

A distant cousin lost his house last week, and a friend on the South Coast has had significant damage to her house and lost the shed and garden after the southerly on Saturday brought the fire from 100km away. They had to evacuate with only the clothes they were wearing.

It has made me pull my head out of the sand, read the news a bit more regularly, make some donations. I'm not super optimistic that anything will change long term, but we'll see.
posted by kjs4 at 5:25 PM on January 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thanks valetta as I'd lost track of that post.
posted by unearthed at 5:55 PM on January 6, 2020

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