Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bushfires in Tasmania

Evacuees on the beaches: photo by Kate Butterworth and published by the ABC
I spent yesterday periodically checking the news to see where the fires were burning in my home state, Tasmania. Bushfires are part of life in Australia, but yesterday was something else. When I was a kid if the summer temperatures got to 30 ºC it would be on the evening news. Yesterday was 41.3 degrees Celsius - the highest temperature in 120 years of record keeping.
This image belongs to the ABC and can be seen in context here
The fires have destroyed whole swathes of towns. People were evacuating to beaches and waiting to be rescued by boats, cut off from any overland roads. It's hard being away when your home is in trouble, but so far there are no confirmed reports of lives lost. The reason I'm writing about it is that this is the first disaster to hit Tassie since the rise of social media, and the way everyone has been using facebook and twitter to offer and organise help is fantastic. All day yesterday I was re-sharing offers of help, many for the animals who will suffer terribly from the fires. When horrible things happen we often see the best of our communities in the outpouring of generosity that follows, and social media means that even from the other side of the world I get to feel that love.

If you are in Tasmania please consider sharing this information to help animals in need:
The Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania is offering free accommodation for all animals effected by the fires, in their stable complex at Hobart Showground. Free camping is also available to anyone accompanying animals or from one of the effected areas. People requiring this can contact Scott Woodham on 0400574654 prior to arriving.
Kingston Animal Hospital
The Principal Vet of the Kingston Animal Hospital (Dr Chris Lee) is offering to examine and destroy any animals from the Forcett fire at no cost over this weekend. Could as many people as possible please share this so animals are not left to suffer.
North Hobart Veterinary Hospital has available cat accommodation, at no charge, for people who have been displaced by the fires and cannot find suitable accommodation for their cats.

Please contact us on 0439 347 023. The hospital is currently closed but a staff member will arrange to meet you at the hospital to organise a bed for your cat.
Other:  AHVEC is able to help with injured or displaced wildlife and domestic pets. We are open all night and weekend. Please don't hesitate to call 0427 025073.
To assist people trying to call with EMERGENCIES in Forcett for injured animals the direct number to the vet is 0408 371 383. We have a vet ready with a fully equipped vehicle to attend the scene as soon as authorities allow us in.
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