Well .. um .. yes. I did have some local stuff to write and post, but the Bushfire disaster events near Melbourne in Victoria have sort of subdued any ebullience or excitement I might feel by being more or less re-connected to the internet.
Any smug satisfaction about merely getting through two weeks of 43C + temperatures has sort of dribbled away, pales into insignificance – replaced by sheer amazement, almost incredulity; at what happened in Victoria last Saturday. Whole towns wiped out, 1800+ homes vanished. 180+ lives lost. 7000 people homeless. All, mostly, in one day.
Some of the video footage that have seen of Marysville and Kinglake is reminiscent of Hiroshima. Not “burnt”, “charred” or even “smouldering” .. just .. melted flat.
Why, some might ask, how. We've experienced bushfires before; we've had Hot Spells before, and long dry spells, lost lives and property regularly in seasonal bushfires; but the weather conditions that day, according to accounts, were unique, unprecedented. Far beyond anything that had been “planned for”.
Even those who lived through the previous 1932 and 1983 “Black Friday” bushfire events were shaking their heads in astonishment by the speed, intensity and ferocity of the fire-fronts.
There are, now, many people thanking whatever providence they believe in that it all happened on a weekend. Not sure how many schools in the area vanished, but the mind boggles with the thought that they might have been full of children.
I don't live anywhere near Victoria so have no real idea of how long their “heat waves” generally last. Well, not quite. I did live in Melbourne for five years – 1983-1988. Back then the standing joke was - “if you don't like the weather, just wait half an hour”. Even so, can't remember it ever getting particularly “hot” for more than one day before a cool change, if not rain. Obviously, something has changed since then – though paradoxically, this time it was the approaching cool change that created the extreme conditions for the firestorms
Conversely, 1000 miles away, Ingham in North Queensland was flooded – twice .. Europe and North America have been experiencing unusual blizzards and snowstorms. Have been watching TV footage of the “snow storms” in Europe and looks like fun .. can say that I'd prefer to sit out two weeks of snow, than a fortnight of 40+ temperature – then have a fireball fanned by 50mph winds come through my house. Snow melts and trickles away, water recedes, homes (generally) remain intact.
There are now, of course, serious questions being asked about the increasing number of “tree changers” moving into the bush. The wisdom of “greenie” policies preventing natural, native vegetation clearance. There is a story somewhere about a household being fined $30,000 by “council planning authorities” for clearing a few acres around their premises, but ended up as the only house still standing in the vicinity. (a very expensive insurance policy, methinks .. heh). That debate will rage for some time, methinks. Did we learn anything from the Royal Commission enquiries into the 1932 and 1983 fires? Probably not. Not even, apparently, from the bushfire events of a couple of years ago.
The rest of the Nation has, and will continue to rally behind with support for those in Victoria. Will, however, reserve my utmost pride, applause, appreciation, admiration, commendation for the 3000 or more dedicated men and women of the Country Fire Services. Mostly entirely voluntary, mostly local mums and dads, some of whom were aware that they were losing their own houses, their own families – while they were out on the truck battling in extreme conditions to save someone else's home.