bushfire looting

It may be better called stealing, but looting has the sense of violation and despair associated with disaster.  The 7th of Febuary fires are said to be Australia’s worst peacetime disaster  when  173 people died. To put that in perspective that leaves more than 173,000 other family members  and friends grieving .  There are at least 78 communities burnt with 2,000 properties completely destroyed, 100’s of businesses gone with over 7,000 people displaced.   There were  fires, two weeks before the Black Saturday and over 66 fires that day,  and fires continuing for another 5 weeks.

In all of this this there has been a mamoth effort to get accomodation, supplies , infra-structure into place.  The three levels of government, charitable agencies, voluntary service agencies, neighbours, friends, anyone willing to put them selves out there assisted.

In this out pouring of support,donations,practical work, supplies, it is an abrupt jolt to be informed by phone last night that one of the caravans supplied for volunteers coming from various places around Australia and the city was stolen.   The other caravan was broken into, possibly to steal the crank bar , and the other  the window smashed. I’ve stayed in one of these vans, old , basic , not of great value in monetary terms but in terms of the community being able to offer free accommodation, valuable.    Before the caravans arrived, the burnt out locals put the fencing crews up for as long as a week.  Imagine the extra burden, supplying food, bedding , all done with the grace and goodwill of farming people.

Now all the vans are gone,  the fencing project will slow down if not stop .  One of the anologies used to give the magnitude of the losses is that, to replace the fencing, is the equivalent of building a fence from Sydney to Perth.   I would like to be generous, thinking of the thief as having a need but the truth is the van would have been given if there was a need.      It was difficult sleeping in the van, noisy, shook in the wind, next to a trucking route, a camping experience.  Nightmares, restlessness, hauntings, no sleep, till the van is rightfully returned to where it is truly needed.  Take notice looters.


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