This summer has seen one of the worst fire seasons on record across Australia, with no State or Territory spared from the destruction and trauma caused by the rampaging flames as they spread across the dry landscape, fuelled by heat and strong winds.
Life has been lost, families have been devastated, businesses and communities destroyed … not to mention the damage and decimation caused to the fauna, flora and the landscape of this country. With this in mind, we thought it fitting to pen a few words of hope.
We are reminded of the devastation caused to the small South West town of Yarloop only 4 years ago when it was almost physically erased from the map. 2 people died, some 166 homes were lost (along with the historical Yarloop Workshops) including numerous family pets, a large variety of farming livestock and a significant selection of the native local fauna as well as, the thousands of hectares of rural, agricultural and Crown land burnt black. Not to forget the farm machinery and community infrastructure which disappeared.
Four years on the small town of Yarloop is slowly being rebuilt. It is a gradual process encompassing various aspects – the environment being one of the first things to self-generate. I vividly remember driving to Perth in early April 2016, some 3-short months after the devastating bush fire and was both surprised and astonished so see that greenery had begun to return to the parched landscape. Blackened trees I was certain were dead, where sprouting new green growth, the understory plants and shrubs of the forests floor were bursting back into life … and even some of the pastural land appeared to be turning green.
For the human population the recovery from the devastation was no doubt a much slower process, infrastructure needed to be restored, the damage needed to be assessed and the town’s residents needed to come together to rebuild their community and their spirit. Not an easy task but thankfully through government and industry support, insurance payouts, family, friends and voluntary services, the community has commenced their journey.
The town now has a new Community Recourse Centre, Conference Centre and shared Community Space utilising elements of the old Yarloop Town Hall. A new Fire Station has been built and various town and community infrastructure projects completed. Family homes have commenced to be rebuilt and local businesses have re-opened their doors to cater to the needs of locals and visitors.
It is an unfortunate fact but fire (and flood) are a regular occurrence in Australia. Sometimes the devastation is great, sometimes it is small and isolated. In Western Australia alone over the last 20 years there have been 14 major bushfire incidences which have resulted in 11 lives lost, some 410 family homes destroyed, various sundry buildings and infrastructure assets, not to mention tens of thousands of hectares of forest, agricultural and pastoral land as well as native wildlife.
The things we can do to help these individuals and communities and aid in their recovery is of course donating money and goods but there is also the volunteering of our time and services to assist with clean-up, re-generation and re-building but most of all, we can visit these affected regions and supporting their local businesses and helping to strengthen their local economies, in the months and years after a bushfire. Without money flowing through these towns, these communities cannot recover and thrive once more.
For those who might be interested a book has been written about the Waronna, Yarloop and Harvey Bushfires of 2006, called ” Stories from the Fireground “.
To read more about the book – click on the image
If you intend to donate money to any organisation (and there are hundreds of them) make sure you check the Australian Charities Register – https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity to insure that they are a bonafide as well as, inform yourself about how the group will use and distribute funds they receive.