Friday, February 20, 2009

Victorian fires update

Praise God, my cousin and his family are ok despite the ordeal of the bush fires!!!

An email exerpt:

D & J have been through the mill during these last few weeks, as have thousands of others living in Victoria State. As a precaution, D moved all irreplaceable items, like framed photographs and certificates, legal documents, etc, from the farm to a safer haven. They have been living on a knife edge with cases packed and ready to be hurled into the car. At night, they have been taking it in turns to sleep while the other one watched for fire development closer to them. This means climbing up to the top pasture where they have a 360 degree view.

On the Saturday that the fires were the worst, D decided not to try and sit it out. By then, the horrific death stats were beginning to come in. He packed the family up and they went up to Gisborne to stay with J's parents. In temperature of 45-46 degrees, they spent most of the weekend in the pool trying to keep cool. As they sat in the water, clouds of brown muck floated overhead, dropping their murky load all over everything. As it turns out, Gisborne was not much safer then Wonga. J's two mentally disabled step sisters were at a bush camp not too far away and had to be dramatically evacuated which didn't do much for there state of mind. Both are deaf and autistic. Poor things must have been so bewildered.

There were some nasty fires pretty close to the farm and, in fact, there way out could easily have been blocked by fire. There is only one road out and most of the way is through typical Australian bush. One of the hardest battles for D and J was leaving all the stock behind. J has horses and D has 40 beloved cows whom he refers to as his 'girls'. There are also sheep and poultry. They left all the stock, except the poultry, in the bottom pasture next to the creek. When D returned to check on things on the Monday, they were all huddled in a long line in the creek - their instinct obviously told them it was the safest place. They are now back home although fires are still blazing here and there but are under control.

Now, there is a huge amount of work to do in terms of assisting those who have lost everything. The wider church is overwhelmed apparently, as are the Health Departments and Emergency Services. It's going to be a huge and long process of work to get back to something approaching normal. D knows a number of people, particularly farmers who have lost everything. Something that hasn't been considered yet is the number of people who were not directly affected by fires but whose livelihood depended on the forest, nature and farming industries. Many vets who depend on farming will lose their livelihood. Fortunately, D' speciality takes him out of Victoria quite a lot but he will still be greatly affected.

Please continue to pray for all those affected.

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