A council relief centre worker’s blog

Submitted by Anon on 13 March, 2009 - 8:31

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Last night — not many evacuees stay overnight, but they have horrific stories. A grandmother from Darwin whose daughter and three grandchildren died at Kinglake trying to escape, people who have lost their home and are just waiting to hear what's happened to their loved ones.

People drive into the centre with great urgency wanting to donate. A bloke drove up fast at midnight and got out of his ute really aggro. He had an esky full of drinks "for the kids", bars and can openers. He was also pretty full and stank of alcohol. I thought he was going to biff me he was so aggro but later after we unloaded his truck he started crying - he had grown up in the area and had lost at least 15-16 people. He wanted to be part of the reconstruction and help build the roads. We had been briefed earlier - none of the reconstruction will happen until after the forensics. 3am, organising lunch packs for the 40 cops doing victim identification at 7.30am; 4am, a water main burst outside the centre; 6am, the media converged.

There are post-it notes everywhere — most disturbing was "mum and dad" looking for their three kids. I was impressed that most of the donations were good or new stuff and very little junk. Donated food can be a real hassle though. I was warning the kitchen volunteer that a tray of meat she had already reheated overnight would have to go. When the health officer arrived at 6am I brought him in and he told them it would have to go. One kitchen volunteer was furious at me and snarled abuse.

thursday 12 february 2009

Last night we only had four evacuees staying. One was an elderly woman hoping that people she knows will still be alive. By now we know if they haven’t registered they are dead.

She was concerned about going back because she would be living with her son and daughter-in-law. Another elderly woman who had two daughters and families in Kinglake saw the Red Cross nurse who discovered she had a very full colostomy bag. One daughter and family were dead, the other daughter only found out about the colostomy bag at the Relief centre. It had been in place 2 years but she had kept it secret.

At the many union picket lines I have been on and several overnight for days, such as the 1998 MUA dispute, you have people who just know everything that is going on. This is a lot larger and more disorganised because of the magnitude although it improves every day.

They rang me for another shift today. I have not returned the call. Tomorrow I might suggest we bring in non-Council people. Council has provided an enormous number of staff. I am not sure how this is going to go in the long term.

sunday 22 february 2009

Newspaper articles… that arsonists are the new paedophiles, in terms of demonisation.

Alongside that is thinking that while arsonists will always exist, these are very particular conditions relating to global warming or climate change. It hasn’t rained for over two months: everything is just waiting to burn. The emissions trading targets the Feds are trying to get through will have to change. Maybe this catastrophe means they will.

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