Australia’s an Inferno and Needs Our Help

Megan Sigismonti, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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 Australia has been experiencing its nationwide fire season since late July. The eighty-three bush fires that have been wreaking havoc across every Australian state have yet to cease, and can be attributed to the worst drought in decades, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Add the record high heat wave in December (113 °F-120 °F) and climate change that takes natural disasters from bad to worse, it can be said that Australia’s current weather is a recipe for disaster.

New South Wales (NSW) has been struck the hardest. With an estimation of greater than 2,000 homes destroyed or damaged, the fires that still burn remain a nightmare for NSW Rural Fire Service. On January 7, the NSW Rural Fire Service is scheduled to deploy 2,700 firefights to battle NSW’s bush fires.

In Victoria’s East Gippsland region a bush fire spread across roughly twenty kilometers in the span of five hours. As well, bush land, wooded areas, and national parks nationwide have been affected. Sydney and Melbourne are two cities taking the brunt of the flames. In December the smoke was abominable to the point that the air quality measured eleven times the “hazardous” level. With resulting symptoms of sore eyes, throat, and nose irritation, young children and elderly are particularly at risk. Children were sent home from school due to mass amounts of smoke alarms going off, and ferry services at Sydney’s port were halted.

There have been a total of twenty-four deaths nationwide, and an estimated half a billion animals affected. The population of koalas specifically has been diminished by a third. Other species of birds and frogs that live in uniquely niche environments with low populations could be wiped out if the fires reach them.

The state and federal authorities of Australia are struggling with the 17.9 million acres and counting that have been burned. Despite aid from foreign nations including the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, the fire persists; however, there is still hope. It is expected on January 8 for wind gusts to decline and for cooler temperatures to set in, thus increasing the chance of desperately needed rain.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched a recovery fund worth $2 billion ($1.39 USD) to be released over a two-year period to help relieve Australians. Morrison stated that $4,200 will go to every firefighter volunteer who battles the inferno for more than ten days. Lastly, Morrison has sent military assistance ranging from navy carriers to air force air crafts to aid in clean-up and recovery.

Anyone can help Australia. Donations can be made to Salvation Army Australia, Australian Red Cross, the NSW Rural Fire Service, and St. Vincent de Paul Society Australia. And donations to animal-specific relief can be to WIRES, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.