As of New Year’s day, authorities confirmed nine deaths since Monday; five people are missing; many customers remain without power after 40+ power poles were destroyed; and at least 200 homes have been lost (with the warning those numbers will likely increase) to the bushfires raging across New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. East Gippsland has been particularly hard hit.
The unprecedented fires this summer in Australia have raged since September, fueled by drought and heat, consuming roughly an area the size of Costa Rica and killing more than a dozen people. And a third of NSW’s koalas, as well as a third of their habitat.
And 1000 people spent the night on the beach in Malua Bay in the smoke and ash, due to closed roads.
Donations have begun arriving to the affected area, but residents and vacationers are struggling without power, fuel, and cell service in some areas. Those waiting on roads to re-open are facing closed fuel stations, powerless ATMs, and lines for payphones and supplies. (A supply ship with 1.6 tons of food, water, and fuel has left Melbourne for Mallacoota.)
Happy New Year, everybody!