Australia's East Coast Is On Fire – Here's How You Can Help

It's the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen.

Officials say the east coast is burning at a catastrophic rate.

As you read this, devastating fires are continuing to spread across the east coast of Australia. 

Fire chiefs in Australia have warned of “the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen”, saying a catastrophic fire danger rating — the highest possible level — is in place for the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra Shoalhaven areas. A week-long state of emergency has been declared by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, as she pleaded with people to heed the warnings of the fire service and stay away from bushland.

Sixty fires are currently burning in across the state, 40 of which are running out of control. There are also nearly 50 fires burning in Queensland, and fires in Western Australia and South Australia.

Three people have died in the fires, 100 people have been injured, including 20 firefighters, and at least 150 homes destroyed — but these figures are only expected to rise.

The catastrophic rating is based on a matrix of factors including temperature, humidity, wind and dryness of the landscape. Residents are being warned that fires under these conditions are, in some cases, impossible to suppress, and homes will burn. People in fire-prone areas were told to leave yesterday, November 11.

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Even as emergency authorities were making their preparations, the federal government’s refusal to discuss the role of climate change in worsening the fire risk attracted condemnation, after the deputy prime minister Michael McCormack on Monday dismissed such concerns as the “ravings of … inner-city lunatics”.

And although Australia's government would like you to believe just that, Australia's fire season risks are growing longer and more intense due to climate change, according to scientists.

Officials have confirmed that 2018 and 2017 were Australia's third and fourth-hottest years on record respectively, and last year the nation experienced its warmest summer on record. The Bureau of Meteorology's State of the Climate 2018 report said climate change had led to an increase in extreme heat events and increased the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.

Last year, a UN report said Australia was falling short in efforts to cut its CO2 emissions.

With all this going on in the background, it can often feel like we’re powerless to do anything to help this alarming situation, but while there’s no way to directly stop the fires that are already raging in Australia, there are things we can do to protect and prevent further fires from happening. Below we’ve collated a list of the ways you can help the east coast of Australia right now, and protect it for the future.

EDUCATE YOURSELF

The more you learn about the crisis that’s happening, the more you can help.

Bushfires are common in Australia but the country has experienced a dramatic start to what scientists predict will be a tough fire season - with climate change and weather cycles contributing to the dangerous combination of strong winds, high temperatures and dry conditions.

The current disaster has not wreaked the human devastation of Australia's worst recent bushfires, the Black Saturday fires that killed 173 people in Victoria state in 2009, with some experts attributing that to better early warning systems.

DONATE TO:

THE SALVATION ARMY

The Salvation Army launched The Bushfire Disaster Appeal to allow Australians to support the communities affected.

The appeal will position the Salvos to move beyond the current support of evacuees and emergency personnel and into the sustained effort required through the recovery and rebuild phases to come.

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Services teams are active at six evacuation centres in NSW, and they hope to raise $3 million, with a $500,000 contribution from leading corporate donor Woolworths already.

GoFundMe

Several GoFundMe pages have been set up to help those living in areas on the NSW mid-coast that have been destroyed by fires:

NSW Rural Fire Service

An NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades page has been created to “help our heroes”. You can also donate to the organisation via credit card or via direct deposit:

Account Name: NSW Rural Fire ServiceBank: Westpac BSB: 032-001 Account No: 171051

To request a receipt email your name, date of deposit, amount and address to [email protected]

Cheques and money orders can be posted to: NSW Rural Fire ServiceLocked Bag 17, Granville NSW 2142.

Australian Red Cross

You can also donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery by calling 1800 811 700 or making a donation online.

Red Cross will use the donations to help affected communities by providing aid as well as stocks of critical disaster response equipment, including water filtration, shelter, hygiene and cooking kits for use in emergencies.

help the wildlife

Hundreds of koalas are also estimated to have been killed by the bushfires that raged near NSW’s Port Macquarie, with rescuers desperate to find survivors.

  • To help koalas in the mid-coast area, visit the Koalas in Care Facebook page to donate. 

Contact members of the Oireachtas

Make your voice heard. 

Main image by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

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