It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks; hopefully the worst has passed… but it’s not over yet.
My melancholy lingers like the smoke from the bushfires; although I’m one of the fortunate whose home and village are intact. However, we remain captive audience to the bushfires in our region which now extend across NSW and are also impacting other states across Australia.
After spending a very long weekend at an unnerving Emergency -prepare to evacuate- alert level, intermittently at the lesser Watch and Act level during the following days, we returned a day or so ago to Advice which has been our status quo for the better part of a month.
Last Monday, after unpacking the ute we had loaded up -prompted by prepare to evacuate text message and telephone alerts from the RFS- with our most necessary belongings a few days beforehand, we drove into town encountering the path of Friday’s fires that had prompted our packing… what we could see of the blackened landscape through the smoke -which now thankfully is from containment backburning mostly- was devastating, redeemed by miracles of fire-licked but otherwise intact properties.
Even before we attended a community fire meeting on November 11 my presence on social media was scant… rumours and ensuing panic were rife. The message from the Rural Fire Service and police was to heed and share only official information sources; misinformation is counterproductive. Well-intentioned but poorly thought out sharing of personal information also ill-advised… looters monitor social media too.
I kept friends and family up-to-date via texts, direct messages and phone calls, and many of them followed the fires through the Fires Near Me app, as did we, setting our watch zone to a 20 km radius.
Contact with the outside world via comments on blogging community posts and my previous post are a glimpse of my thoughts and feelings over those days…
We’re set up with generators, hoses, etc and various plans of action depending on what happens… and we will evacuate if necessary. (Nov. 10)
Fires around us but so far so good. We have a plan A, B, C, etc. We’ll wait, watch and act accordingly. Lots of communication and community, RFS meeting tomorrow. (Nov. 10)
We made it through Tuesday, the weather was in our favour… so still hanging in, prepared, watching, waiting and hopeful. (Nov. 13)
We are watching, we are prepared both to stay if it is safe, and to go if it is not. The weather has been kind to us in the village so far but we are nowhere near complacent. (Nov. 13)
Practically, living it is bad enough… but knowing our beautiful forests, conservation areas are destroyed…I know they’ll regrow but so much loss of habitat, and people’s properties… I know they’ll rebuild. But it’s heartbreaking. I hope we can find a better way. (Nov. 13)
It pays to know your adversary… The other part of it is being prepared and using the tools available, to cope. I have explained similar to quite a few people over the last few days who have been concerned but not familiar enough to really understand our particular situation, and worry more than necessary. You’ve got to remember these fires have been on our radar for longer than the media coverage, and are part of rural living. We set ourselves up with the tools to deal with whatever comes… once you are familiar with the information resources, apps, local geography and topography and practically know you have enough food to last for weeks or more without going town, have a generator and enough water, and a 4WD and a G.O. who has done this all b4… But even I have my moments. When I saw the vast areas on the possible predicted RFS map of the fire for yesterday at 3.40 am when I was wandering around checking the hills for flame activity, I started shaking so much I couldn’t hold my phone. It’s what you don’t know and can’t control that makes it stressful but you balance that with what you do. Ignoring social media commentary from unofficial sources is also useful. It can be misleading even if well-intentioned. Hopefully by the weekend life will be back to normal and we’ll have to unpack the ute… (Nov. 13) https://acflory.wordpress.com/2019/11/11/a-bushfire-a-b-c/
The firies, volunteers, community organisations… neighbours, friends, local businesses… have been marvellous. We feel supported, and it gives us confidence that we’ll get through this. The RFS communication, social media presence, Fires Near Me app, community meeting with locals has been wonderful, and of course the incredibly hardworking fire fighters at the incredibly dangerous front line. (Nov. 13)
Bravo. You have expressed what is in my heart which beyond domestic conversation I cannot express without reaching unhelpful levels of stress. However, in short, I’m sick of politics and economic policy being the benchmark, diverging from its etymological origins ‘of, for, or relating to citizens’. From where I sit here -still- amidst it all, our organisations, communities, volunteers, local businesses… are doing as much as they can in an organised and non-organised way. People are helping each other. The blame game being played out across news media and social media is natural but mostly unhelpful. IMO the Greens, greenies etc are a useful scapegoat employed by bureaucracy to mask their deliberate financial lapse of real responsibility, that you elucidate so well. (Nov. 15) https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/in-the-front-line
We’re going to town this morning for the first time in a fortnight and since the fires went through… I expect it will not be a good experience. Because of the drought and other human practices, there is less ground moisture creating a situation where many rainforest areas which never burned before, did, and are gone forever. (Nov 18) https://annelawson.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/a-bushfire-a-b-c/
Useful bushfire resources:
https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/ and or its equivalent for your location
https://www.facebook.com/nswrfs/ and https://www.facebook.com/NSW-RFS-Lower-North-Coast-Team-291448717604005/ or its equivalent for your location
https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me app or its equivalent for your location
Sentinel Hotspots is now found at Digital Earth Australia Hotspots.
“Now laughing friends deride
Tears I cannot hide
So I smile and say
When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes.”
18 thoughts on “Smoke gets in your eyes”
I hope you can take a breather and rest up. It is an exhausting experience, both emotionally and physically, to go through this for so long. I also hope that the worst is over and that your neck of the woods gets a break from it all.
Thank you. Life has resumed some smoky dusty normalcy but I’m still monitoring via the apps and maps. The predicted spread of the fires is somewhat disconcerting but there is a reassuring clear area around populated areas thanks to the containment efforts.
Today the gusting wind here us at a frightening speed, with temperatures around 39. We have three fires, small and now under control, nearby. This is our normal, but enough to get us moving with removal of flammables near rhe house, bucket filling, tirch checking…. where are my blundstones…and the wailing winds. Although still a little green, it only takes one loon with a match.
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I believe this is all our new normal, and I’m pleased we had a dry run preparing to deal with it without having to actually deal with it… and I wish that for you to.
Even if you hadn’t done that run out of TA, I’d have been urging you to do so, perhaps as far as the coast to get some clean, ionised air in your lungs. I’m more relieved than I can tell that you’re out of danger – now I only have to monitor the Ebor fire to watch over my nearest and dearest. It seems selfish to say ‘long may the wind come off the sea’, but that’s what’s keeping the fire away from my sister, BIL and friends in Dorrigo.
And I’m still dead impressed that you got a TAFE assignment in while all this was going on….
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We didn’t make it to the coast just the supermarket and MiL’s… but spending the days inside, fans and aircon have made the smoke liveable… which contributed to finishing that Tafe assignment after the worst of the fire threat passed. During it, for a week, the distraction of its possibilities made it impossible to accomplish much at all except watch and wait. Still keeping an eye on the fires around the region… hard to rest easy until we get rain.
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So glad all is well with you Dale
Thank you. Welcome back. As has been said by more than one person in the last week… here in the village, we dodged a bullet thanks to wind direction and hard work & firefighting savvy.
How lovely to have space to relax your vigilance, even if you are still monitoring conditions. I am glad you are safe, and I hope there is is rain in your close future ☺️
The exercise in vigilance has been very useful, if a little discomforting on a day-to-day basis. I’m not feeling hopeful about rain, the forecast is loosely an uncertain amount in late January, early February.
Damn…I knew the fires were close to you, but those photos of fire in the hills are seriously scary. I hope the worst is over too. -hugs-
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The fires weren’t scarily close, they were a couple of ridges away, that’s the thing with being familiar with the topography vs seeing it 2D. The local containment work has put us in a better space…
I know you’re right but they still looked much too close. There’s some rain forecast for us next week. Hopefully it’ll head your way as well.
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I’m drawn back to your photos again and again, but something has me very puzzled. In the very first photo [north-east] I can see a lovely mowed strip on the left of the fence [your block I presume], but on the other side is what appears to be a paddock of knee high grass. Ditto with the photo to the east. Has all that been cleared since you took those photos?
That land is at the back of our house. It doesn’t belong to us but we keep a strip mowed as it gives us and our neighbours rear access. The mowed strip drops off down an embankment to the other area which sometimes is slashed but often left for the wallabies and quail.
So is that crown land or something? I can’t believe they haven’t slashed it, especially given the fires still burning in the area. That whole thing could go up like a torch. Can you complain to council or something? People’s lives are at risk!
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Private land. It’s not as bad as it looks. It will get slashed. But priorities…