OMG: Victoria unites to fight the fire, mourn the dead and rebuild

fireagony The coverage of Victoria’s devastating bushfires has just started to hit the rest of the nation.

With seventy six confirmed deaths, it is the worst bushfire disaster in our history. It is feared there could be dozens more. 

A sign of the times perhaps but we have followed the tragedy through Twitter, a micro-blogging service where literally many hundreds of thousands of people can simultaneously contribute to an information flow.

One wrote:

realising that there are a whole lot of Melbournians who haven’t grokked the scale of the #bushfires.

Grokked be young person’s speak for understand.

And how true that statement is. We are just beginning to comprehend the dimension of this. The extent of the devastation. And the agony of individuals who’ve lost loved ones and all their worldly possessions. In some cases, just forty kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, on the city’s outskirts to our north.

We are accustomed to summer bushfires to some extent. But not bushfires that kill more than seventy six people and destroy 700 homes, injuring hundreds of people. This is almost too much to process for many of us. 

There are reports than much-loved former Nine newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife have not yet been accounted for.

We first heard of this via Twitter.

And while the Herald Sun and other mainstream news sources have done their usually brilliant work, it’s been Twitter that has stood out this time for us. 

We all have one connection or another with the bush. Ours is with old stomping grounds on Mt Macedon (safe) and a dear friend’s hometown in Beechworth (currently safe but a very concerning situation for the towns around it). It’s the memories of those areas and the special people who live in them that bring this home to all Australians.

What can you do? Praying doesn’t hurt we always think. And pulling out the plastic could be helpful too. 

Again sourced from Twitter:

Red Cross & PM’s Appeal Line: 1800 811 700 or click here

While the emergence of tools like Twitter is one of many reminders of us how much the world is changing, these awful bushfires are a test as ancient as there can be.

And of course it’s not just a test for those directly hit. But for all of us watching on in horror, a test of our generosity and decency and the capacity of our government/community agencies in helping those who need it most. In many cases, they don’t just need insurance money in a month or two, they need cash right now to ensure they have clothes to wear next week.

And last but above all else, we consider the bravery of those who fight the fires in the emergency services, risking their lives to save others.

The mind-numbing heat, the choking smoke, the terrifying noise and the randomness and speed of a bushfire makes it the most formidable of foes.

Those who go into this kind of terrifying inferno to keep us safe are a reminder that while we occasionally see glimpses of hell on earth, there are plenty of angels kicking around too.

God bless all of them.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “OMG: Victoria unites to fight the fire, mourn the dead and rebuild

  1. heard that Brian Naylor’s wife Moiree has died in the Kinglake fire. Brian missing. condolences to all who’ve lost so much this terrible day.

  2. Anonymous

    If my home burned down last week in say Frankston, what would the Gov’t do for me? Nothing. If it burned down yesterday with 700 others, I’d get plenty of support and money.

    Shouldn’t it be more fair for all?

  3. Double Standards

    Brian Naylor Statement in part reads

    “The family of Brian and Moiree Naylor are mourning the loss of their father, mother and grandparents in the tragic fire at Kinglake West,” the statement said.

    “They request that their grief and privacy be respected by the media at this time of great family distress.”

    Yeah, request privacy from the media. Like Channel 9 ever showed such privacy or compassion for people in crisis when Naylor was in the newschair.

    When it’s one of their own who want’s privacy they demand it to be respected – but they circle others in crisis like vultures.

  4. Richard

    Anonymous:

    Yes, the Government would help you rebuild if you were a victim of this tragedy.

    But nobody could give you what you already lack: compassion.

    You really, really suck, know that?

  5. Anonymous

    Connex blamed the union for train cancellations. Connex unionists who refused to drive defective trains in the heat certainly saved many lives. The Connex management are not interested in saving lives. Only profit.

  6. My Heart is Breaking

    What an appalling, dreadful tragedy! An unprecedented, horrible, shocking disaster.

    For those who have gone, a merciful release from unimaginable agony. For those who are left we, as a community, must reach out offering as much support and relief as is needed to help you manage this catastrophe.

  7. Anonymous

    As a mark of respect turn of the air conditioning in the EPA Stasi office, and certainly that of Mick Bourke. Make him suffer like the brave CFA firefighters, the police, and other emergency workers. We salute you all. The EPA run a Stasi operation. Their actions saved no lives and probably cost many. Sack the EPA. Sack Jennings.

  8. Anonymous

    Congratulations Vexnews on your fire coverage. Vexnews is always first with the latest news. Your coverage tonight Vexnews is brilliant.

  9. Time Out

    The Naylor family, as with ALL the families affected by this awful situation, deserve our immediate sympathy and help.

    I agree that Channel Nine and Connex are not great corporate citizens. But this goes far, far beyond that.

    Show a bit of respect.

  10. anon

    Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2009, 22:21
    I would ‘love’ to meet you so I kick you miserable face to a pulp.
    You lack compassion and decency and are typical of the scum that hangs around this blog.

  11. Anonymous

    Anon. 23.07. Playing the man not the ball. Dont have a come back to the issue raised do you? Just an emotive rant.

  12. anon

    Anonymous 23.10, you are the same sort of scum I would take delight in maiming. Neither of you are ‘Men’, more like impotent heartless softcocks.
    In fact I do have a come back, one home is one tragedy and does not compare to today’s numerous tragedies. Centrelink provides a means tested ‘special benefit’ for anyone who has sadly been through a tragic event.

  13. Anonymous

    Male macho keyboard warriors have returned from behind the safety of their keyboards and monitors.

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  15. Anonymous

    Danielle Green’s office is collecting practical donations today, clothes, blankets and other things. Drop by and contribute.

  16. Anonymous

    Danielle Green is a great local member and a good person.

    Great work Danielle.

  17. Anonymous

    Danielle Green and Ben Hardman have been out fighting the fires all weekend

    good people they are

  18. Anonymous

    Danielle Green + Ben Hardman will milk this for all its politically worth.

  19. Anonymous

    oh please, grow up, this is not political.

  20. Inga

    I am very upset at what has occurred to all our fellow Victorians as a result of the bushfires. I will be visiting the site of the devastation soon as I don’t think it’s right the Premier, Prime Minister and other politicians get all the media coverage. I deserve to gain public exposure on the back of tragedy like everyone else. After all, I am the master of it. Look how much coverage I got out of the Methane Gas situation in Cranbourne. My public recognition rating has gone up heaps.

  21. I don’t know why I am engaging in the debate triggered by Anonymous at 22:21 regarding government assistance. It’s probably because I feel utterly powerless, sitting here filled with grief. My Aunt and Uncle are dead. We don’t know officially that it was their bodies found on their property in Kinglake, it may take weeks to establish that, but we know it is them. There are too many charred remains littering their street to truly know at this stage. This isn’t emotive drivel, it is real.

    That is my starting point. So perhaps my argument will be clouded in irrational emotion, but I will try to be objective as possible.

    Firstly, the loss of one home, in any suburb, is unfortunate. The loss of an entire street would be dreadful. The loss of a whole town or suburb, a tragedy. But, when you lose several towns, countless streets, hundreds of homes, and quite possibly hundreds of lives, I think we are looking at a nightmare. But that is not the question that is raised – the question is: when should government help?

    When you get the common flu, I dare say no-one really cares. But when there is an outbreak of a pandemic, government cares. If your plumbing backs up, you call a plumber, when the levies broke in New Orleans, people called on the government. The failure of a local small business is sad, but the failure of Ford would be devastating. A gangland shooting is unsettling, but a massacre in Port Arthur required gun reform.

    Scale matters. The bigger the problem, the bigger the role for government. Simple. I’m not saying this is always fair. But, it is one of a few key tenets of politics.

    Government is complex. Its role is constantly debated – not least of which here. Government is a provider of services. When there is a fire in your house, say in Frankston, members of the local fire brigade would be dispatched within minutes of being alerted of the blaze. It took days to even locate two bodies on the property of my Uncle and Aunt, the CFA were too late. It is likely that government corporate bodies supply town-water to a house in Frankston, but my family did not have the benefit of such infrastructure. It is likely a fire hazard in Frankston is minimal because the Council trims the grass and lops old trees on public land, while the National Park adjacent to my family’s property has no such attention. At a service level the people affected in these fires, often get less than our friends in this mythical Frankston fire. The fire in Frankston would most likely have been caused by an electrical fault in the house or human error by its occupants. It would be a private matter, where a fire perhaps started and ended and was contained on a small piece of private land. But these bushfires are not private – they are public. They engulfed national parks and state forests more than they destroyed quarter acre blocks. The fires didn’t originate at the acreage of my family members, and it didn’t stop there either. This is a public fire. In some situations though these fires were possibly the result of arson. In some cases those who are suffering are victims of crime. FYI there are currently compensation programs for victims of crime such as violent assault etc., which are often significantly more generous than the current $1,000 for the living and $5,000 for the dead.

    But government is also about the general good, the common wealth – it is about the collective, it is for society as a whole. We are not just looking at one house fire, we are looking at towns and communities being wiped out. Its not just houses, but schools, businesses, live stock, infrastructure and livelihoods being destroyed, faith being crushed, heritage being lost, and lives extinguished. And so, John Brumby stated rightly, “We will put communities back together”. The destruction of one house in Frankston doesn’t destroy a community, but the destruction of 550 homes in Kinglake could well do that. Government has a role to help put the pieces back together again. The grants on offer will not allow humble mud-brick dwellings to be replaced by self-indulgent extravagance, but they may help fund the funerals of the dead, or pay the rent on alternate housing while people rebuild, or buy a new clothes to replace the only set survivors escaped with.
    On balance though, perhaps it isn’t fair financially to the Frankston home owner. But, then again, the Frankston home owner could probably escape from their burning home, perhaps to the other side of the street or down the road. Whereas, members of my family are likely to have had no escape. There was nowhere to run – roads were impassable, four-storey flames traveling 15-20 km p/h rocketing toward them in an afternoon that turned quickly into night. They didn’t get to watch the MFB hose their house from the comfort of the other side of the street.

    The Premier fittingly commented that “Tragedy has come to our state.” Thankfully, the Government is acting. It won’t bring back the members of my family that have perished. The small grants will not replace them. They will not be a father or a mother to my cousins. These grants will not comfort the mourning. But across the state they may help to rebuild communities devastated, prop up districts destroyed, instill some hope where hope has gone, and help maintain resolve where there is little will to go on.

  22. reds are better in bed

    all resources should be deployed into tracking down the white-anglo freaks that started the fires that killed 201 innocent working class victorians.

    Any organisation that is full of sexually depraved, socially awkward ferrals is a danger to law abiding solid citziens.

    I’d suggest that slater and gordon look at forming a class action against the CFA. most of the fires were started by their members and thus they are partially responsible and should be made to reinburse those that have lost everything.

  23. Anonymous

    [deleted] seems very nervous right now. Does he have [deleted] now!

  24. Anonymous

    Cwaig Wangdon seems very nervous about his AIDS test!

  25. Anonymous

    My name is Banyule Councillor Jenny Mulholland and I’m really happy about the Jake the Snake article and what it means for politics in my area.

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