Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Update

We came home on Sunday night, and things are still tense out here. We took Fred to school on Monday morning, and it was a very small and solemn collection of students. The prep teacher is stuck on the other side of Kinglake, but safe thank goodness, and so this week it looks like school is unlikely. Many people are still out of the area, and sadly some of the families have lost their homes. We've talked to our immediate neighbours who were home on Saturday night and we are so relieved we weren't home. The fires were close, they could hear the fire front approaching, gas bottles exploding, they lost power - it all sounds truly frightening and we were the lucky ones. We are poised to leave at the first signs of a resurgence, our car is packed. We are also prepared if we get caught by surprise, because you can't take anything for granted. As I write this I can hear Martin walking around on the roof. There are some areas still smouldering and there have been a few flare ups. Our smoke alarm went off at 2.30am and we are still recovering - it took Martin and I a long time to get back to sleep after Martin checked the CFA website and went outside to see if he could smell smoke (he couldn't - the girls slept through it all. They take after my father who slept through a window falling in on him when a bomb dropped close by to his home in the war).

It is strange out here. On the one hand we are barely affected, our house is standing, our neighbours are alive. And yet only 1km or so up the road, houses were lost and lives were destroyed. There have been deaths too, but the information is confusing and chaotic, mostly rumor. We've heard some terrible stories, stories that I can't bring myself to write down. We still have a police block on our road and we have to show ID to get back in. I find their presence both mildly alarming and curiously reassuring. As long as the police are here everything is all right. We drive past the CFA, the army trucks, the police mobilising where the Saturday market usually is. It's like living in another country. The girls are on edge like we are, though it's hard to know what they're taking in.

A helicopter goes overhead, reminding us that the state is still burning. Not far away, Healesville, Yarra Glen... It's not over.

18 comments:

Karen (miscmum) said...

No, it's not over. I was just up at Diamond Creek. Lots of grim faces.

Glad you've made your contingency plans. I really hope you don't need them.

katiecrackernuts said...

I hope it all settles and people can start to rebuild. Still thinking of you all down there.

genevieve said...

It is numbing.
Thank you for letting us know how it is going, Penni. Let's hope it's passed over and won't be back.

simmone said...

stay safe - it's v. scary

emmaco said...

I've been thinking about you and the Victorians who have been hurt by the fires. I'm glad your family is OK.

The Scarlet Tree said...

Our thoughts are with you and with all the people coming to terms with it all, keep safe

Susan Johnson said...

Thinking of you, Penni, and hoping like hell you are all going to be safe. Just awful, awful news.
Warmest wishes, Susan

Em said...

Glad you're ok Penni xxx

Ailsa said...

Keep safe Penni, thinking of you all xxx

Maria said...

It's such devastation. Just watching Lateline and can't believe it. Glad you are all ok. Stay safe xx

driftwords said...

Stay safe Penni.
x

Ariane said...

I can't imagine what it's like for you, I can't control my tears 800km away.

It sounds like you have a great community that will help each other heal though, and that is a real blessing.

My hopes join everyone else's that you don't see any more fires.

meli said...

still thinking of you
x

kim at allconsuming said...

It all just defies words or comprehension.

Ariel said...

Really glad you're okay. How smart of you, to have left when you did.

Hope the girls are not too traumatised and that they settle back into school okay, when it returns.

SunnyD said...

thinking of you guys Penn xx

Penni said...

Thanks everyone, strange things make me cry. I am well aware how easily we've had it. The two next doors were here on the night and they are utterly traumatised - they watched fires coming over the hills, knowing it was on its way here, hearing the first reports of deaths on the radio in Strathewen...they lost their power for six hours, which anyone with a water tank knows means no pump and no water coming out of the taps... Next doors are re-evaluating their whole lives, not sure what they're doing out here...

Mark Lawrence said...

Penni, I'm so glad you and your family are well and safe. It must be nerve-wracking to live on tenterhooks.

I was worrying about a friend living in St Andrews who I hadn't been able to get on the phone on Sun and Mon (turns out the phone company had mistakenly disconnected her phone, nothing to do with the fires!), but I finally found her safe and well, but she said these fires were horrific.

My thoughts and prayers are with your and your families. I hope your girls are doing okay. Can I recommend these online resources regarding children, trauma and bushfires, though I'm sure you've already been on to this.

From Child and Youth Health site (SA govt)

Vic govt health site

And Vic Education Dept.

Just some stuff I'd tracked down for my work. Hope you find them useful.