Australia is in extremely dangerous conditions due to some of the most harmful wildfires seen in ages.
A girl who grew up on Cape Cod, Airlie Murray, lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Murray said she is grateful that there are no fires near Sydney. However, there are fires growing outside of her city.
Knowing where the fires are is extremely important to the citizens of Australia. Murray said, “to get a sense of where the fires are, where they are moving, and any additional information, the ‘Fires Near Me’ App by the NSW RFS is a great point of reference.” NSW RFS is the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. NSW RFS is the primary agency for acknowledging bushfires in regions. This organization also reacts to vehicle and motor vehicle accidents, as well as other emergencies, and contributes advice to local communities.
Even though the fires are not physically affecting Murray, she said that the fires are affecting every Australian in some way.
Science teacher David Gorrill said, “The fires are changing the landscape and surface so it changes how the water enters the land, migration patterns of animals, genetic diversity of animals.”
Gorrill said social media is a huge factor in why the fires in Australia are so well known, and how we forget about other wildfires like in the Amazon and other regions.
“The land we live on and our national community is in a state of an emergency, and you can’t help but for that to have a profound and rather distressing effect on you as an individual,” said Murray
The wildfires in Australia started in the early fall of 2019. According to BBC News, these outrageous fires have caused at least 25 deaths since September, and thousands of people have become homeless.
Murray said she is constantly looking for tangible ways to donate and help.
“Charities are saying that monetary donations are the most helpful to fund care and provide resources to the people and animals that need it most,” said Murray.
People are most commonly donating to the Australian Red Cross, NSW RFS, and WIRES. WIRES is the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. This foundation is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization. Although, there are several smaller organizations that are doing great work as well.
After the fires, volunteers are needed to help rebuild communities, and tourists are needed to start injecting much-needed funds into the local economies of these neighborhoods.
In Sydney, residents are mostly affected by smoke coverage. According to Murray, the smoke makes it extremely difficult to be outdoors and exercise and is a nightmare for asthmatics.
“But of course, in Sydney, we are lucky that we are out of the line of fire, so the smoke is a small price to pay,” said Murray.
Murray said her family has many friends that have been affected by the fires. Some have been evacuated from their homes, while others have lost their homes completely.
“My boyfriend had to ‘fireproof’ his family home in the town of Cooma, which is extremely close to many fires burning. This involved spending the weekend hosing down his house and lawn, clearing gutters of all leaves, and making sure there was no debris around the yard that an ember could catch on to and spark,” said Murray.
Murray states that firefighters are working tirelessly around the clock to contain the fires, people have opened up their homes on Airbnb to displaced families, and many countries including Canada and the U.S. have sent firefighters to Australia to help.
Unfortunately, three U.S. firefighters died recently in a plane crash when traveling to Australia to help stop the fires.
“As an Australian, it has been truly inspiring to see how our nation has rallied together, as well as the support from countries overseas,” said Murray.
Businesses in Sydney are trying to help their community in numerous ways. Murray said a market organized by a local beauty business secured donations from luxury clothing and beauty brands where all proceeds were donated to charities supporting the bushfires.
There are also concerts with legendary Australian bands that have been organized. “I have seen several silent auctions with big-ticket prizes; for example, a personal training session with Chris Hemsworth,” said Murray.
Murray states she has been heartened by the strength of her community and the ability and willingness of so many to want to help in tangible ways.
Murray said she believes people have started to give some real thought about the status quo, which is prioritizing economic growth over protecting our earth.