Two years ago my parents moved from Torbay (Auckland) to Cairns after really enjoying their holidays and the people they met there. I thought of them on hearing the news but was I was immediately relieved that they do not live near the fires so I figured it would not be having a direct impact on them; however, my mother just emailed me the following:
We are all very upset here at the moment because of the dreadful fires in Victoria. Our neighbours are in the thick of it (the eleven people we had christmas dinner with, now living in Victoria). I phoned them last night and they were crying. The night before, they had their children on the floor with wet towels over them with the fire all around them. The little girl asked her father if she was going to die and he didnt know what to tell her. The fire singed their house and burned the shed of their business house and the other house was singed as well. There were 28 houses in their street and only 4 remain, (three of them our neighbours houses). They said there was a dead body in the street and it had been there all day. One of their houses was on fire but a water pipe burst and put out the fire. (We have been praying for them).It has been easy to forget how inhospitable Australia can be when we contemplate moving over the ditch to get away from NZ taxes and embrace the higher standard of living Australians have. These events remind us of how little money and the pursuit of material things really matter.
The television is giving reports up to the minute and it is all horrible; 150 confirmed dead and more to come. People burned in their cars.
Up here we have no food. There was a plane load last night into Cairns so we may get some vegies and friut up here if we are lucky. Today will be more rain and lightning.
NZ is a very safe place I am beginning to realise. Please pray for the people in Victoria.
The Australian bush needs fire to renew itself. It is just how nature works. We live on fault lines, next to volcanoes, in flood zones, in areas prone to uncontrollable bush fires. We take risks every day when we cross the road. We think, we hope, we calculate that it won't happen to us. How terrible when it does.
My heart and prayers are with those suffering in Australia.