Nuff Nuff

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Story - A True Story Part 1 - Black Saturday

Believe if you choose – or like many – choose not to believe – I don’t care either way

This story starts on Saturday the 7th February 2009 and is my personal log of the day and the days following the tragic event, now known as the Black Saturday Fires.

Let's start from the start – My family and I live near Whittlesea - we were prepared to come under attack from the fire which started in Kilmore due to fallen power lines. Thankfully it missed us – It was a very close call - maybe 1-2km away – thankfully a wind change took the fire away from us – between before than and certainly after, the fire consumed many buildings, lives and futures. Nobody knew how much worse the day could get. What started at approx 11am on the Saturday the 7th February 2009, still hasn’t finished even today, the day you read this.

My father, like myself had a sixth sense when it came to days of fire threats, he was calling me before the fire started in Kilmore to check that we were prepared. I was prepared as I could be without being called a loon. I was alert and watchful and not locking myself inside. I was listening to the news and watching the internet for signs of trouble. Dad had been calling ever hour or so from about 8am. All was okay, and then all of a sudden, things were not okay – we knew were in trouble, you just knew.

Hubby was away at work, I called him at 11.30am and told him to get home. The kids were packed with everything they wanted to take – the animals safe or for the larger animals prepared to be left. The pumps were primed and hoses laid out. Door mats removed and all that stuff you do for fire preparation. We were as prepared as could be without actually leaving the property.

Our street prepared, those that were leaving left, those that were staying stayed. The elderly were all assigned drivers and bullied into leaving. Many didn’t want to leave, but they were not given a choice. Those in ill health left early. Those that were older, but still able to prepare
properties were left to prepare properties and they would be taken with the children away from imminent danger if the need arose.

The neighbours talked and knew who was doing what. A man was posted on the hill behind us to watch for the fire and the information was fed down the residents.

We became aware at about 3pm that the fire was now being forced away from us by a change in the wind – we could see this – the radio and websites still didn’t have this information – but we could see this with our own eyes. Effectively we were saved, but we stayed on high alert until about 10pm, just in case there was another change in the wind.

We stopped watching our fire about 10pm, the stories coming from Kinglake were hair-raising to say the least. You couldn’t get into town, the media and stories bought tears to everyone who stopped and gave some time and listened, which was what people needed and few had the time to provide.

Once the fire headed off into the hills, I told mum and dad and told them to prepare. My gut just told me that the fire was going to hit town. I just knew it.

The power went out in Marysville at about 4.30pm and from that time onwards I was using the information I could glean from forums and news reports to feed mum and dad what little information I knew. At about 4.30pm a wind storm hit Marysville, which is what took the power out. That wind bought down trees and power lines and caused mayhem in town, Once the General Store shut – there was nowhere central to share information as is normally done.

I spoke to mum and dad every 30 minutes or so – they had a ceiling ladder that enabled them to access to roof space, dad was outside with the backpack and water. The house was being used a sort of refuge, with people from other properties taking shelter under inside the house, along with many animals that people left in the care of my parents. Basically a human and animal

I rang at one stage and the smoke detectors were sounding and mum had to terminate the call because the fire was right there – she had to check the roof space and she couldn’t hear what I was saying. I knew the town was in trouble then, just not how much trouble. I am assuming it was about 6-6.30pm that this call was made.

The last call I made was at 7.57pm - I read to them from the CFA site the 8pm warning that everyone should evacuate to the oval - I knew that the fire front had passed about 6.30pm - but I was hearing in the news that the fire had doubled back

I also knew that they were the ONE house remaining (as reported in this mornings news) in the WHOLE Township - we are talking 100's of houses and businesses.

I kept trying to get through to them, but the landlines were gone at about 6pm and the mobiles were gone by 8pm – I went to bed at midnight - couldn’t sleep - was tossing and turning and listening to the radio - and by 2.30am I had made up my mind to get there come hell or high water - I packed fire fighting clothes, woollen blankets, 8 litres of water, leather gloves, sturdy shoes, a tank full of diesel and a whole lot of determination.

To be continued.....................................................

Will post follow up link and new blog post when ready - it's a long story - so you might need more than one coffee over numerous days :(

Take care out there and remember if in doubt GET OUT

Part 2

Victorian Publics’ Lives at Risk #2 - outage of CFA/DSE Sites

Today the 30.12.09 - Once again the CFA website is up and down like a honeymooners D***, yup that is the only way to explain it

Add to that the DSE website has mostly been DOWN all day - pity those of us that abutt Crown Land we will have no warning

Here is the record for the CFA and DSE sites for today the 30.12.09

10.30hrs – down
10.35hrs – down
10.37hrs – down
10.52hrs – Up
11.12hrs – Up
11.19hrs – Up
11.51hrs – Up
11.56hrs – Up
12.02hrs – Up
12.14hrs – Up
12.19hrs – Up
13.01hrs – Up
13.31hrs – Up
14.01hrs – Up
14.58hrs – Up
15.10hrs - Up
15.20hrs – Down
15.26hrs – Up
15.34hrs – Up
15.52hrs – Up
16.00hrs – Up
16.04hrs - Up
16.08hrs - Up
16.19hrs - Up
16.25hrs - Up
16.47hrs – Up
18.27hrs – Very slow to load
18.30hrs – Up
18.33hrs – Up
18.53hrs – Main warnings page up–advise & alerts page–Very slow loading
19.25hrs - Up
19.56hrs – Up
20.03hrs - Up
20.10hrs – Up
20.30hrs - Up
21.12hrs - Up
21.27hrs - Up
21.35hrs - Up
21.43hrs – Up
22.08hrs – Up
22.19hrs – Up
23.19hrs – Up
23.42hrs - Up

15.53hrs – Down
15.57hrs – Very slow to load
16.00hrs – Up
16.03hrs – Very slow to load
16.08hrs - Up
16.19hrs - Up
16.25hrs – Very slow to load
16.48hrs – Up
18.27hrs – Very slow to load
18.30hrs - Very slow to load
18.33hrs – Very slow to load

18.53hrs – Very slow to load
19.25hrs – Up
19.56hrs – Up
20.03hrs – Up
20.10hrs – Up
20.30hrs - Up
21.12hrs – Down
21.27hrs – Up
21.35hrs - Up
21.43hrs – Up
22.08hrs – Up
23.19hrs – Up
23.42hrs - Up

I will continue to update this post as needed

For those of you city slickers wondering WHY this site is so important here is the reason

Why the CFA site is so important to people in the state of Victoria

as at 23.42hr - this post will not be updated any further - should the need arise a new post will be opened tomorrow.

Last updated 23.44hrs on the 30.12.09

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why must the government save people from themselves?

Was reading an article today in The Australian saying that SMS warnings regarding bushfires didn’t give enough information and where not location specific. That there wasn’t enough information and that information from all sources was almost the same. Of course it is – it’s all from the same source.

You can’t have it both ways, either you let the government run your life or you run your own life. Take responsibility for your own decisions.

Did you decide to live and build in an area that may be affected by bushfire at some time in your lifetime?

Did you decide to plant all those trees so close to your home?

Did you decide to build your house from combustible materials?

Did you decide that you would rather have the overseas holidays and plasma TV’s instead of buildings and contents insurance?

Look I’m sorry – but you have to be accountable for your decisions. No-one else is to blame but you.

You will call me cold-hearted, you will call me uncaring. I’m neither – I’m a realist and that means that I am accountable for every action that I make and can account for every decision.

I made the decision to buy where I did. Which is in an area that could be impacted by fire, but it beats the other two locations we were previously looking at, we knocked those on the head for various reasons. Some of those reasons were; private dead end road, log cabin building, treed location, and black ice.

We opted not to buy in two locations because of the above reasons. It’s called self-protection and common sense. I chose not to place myself and my family in a position that could endanger our life, even if it was a 1 day a year, or lifetime event.

Think ahead, if the day is going to be declared a Code Red day – get out, get out early and stay out. If you want to save your sentimental items, take them with you, if you want to save your animals, take them with you. To leave early is not a crime – don’t let the opinions of others, colour your decision that may affect your life and family forever.

Be Prepared or Prepare to Die.

I can’t repeat that often enough. You are NOT a coward if you decide to leave, you are a survivor.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Reason for Outrage at CFA Outage

People have been saying since the CFA outage yesterday that there are other means of determining impending fire threats. Unfortunately I don't agree.

IN February, We knew it was going to be a bad day, the media had prepared us for it being that - but if you've lived in the bush long enough - you don't need to be told - YOU KNOW.

From the moment I rolled out of bed in the morning, I checked the CFA website, I listened to 693, 1026 AND 774, switching between the stations, yet they really only had proper updates on the ½ hour, so that rules out radio mostly. Newspapers LOL, Internet – fine if you have power. So the ONLY other way to get information is via phone calls to people closer to the danger – it shouldn’t be that way

I understand and many other fire savvy people understand that EVERY media outlet is ALWAYS behind the times – they can’t keep up-to-date. But sites like the CFA are a first line of defence for the ordinary person – to give them a guide.

For example, The Kilmore fire – I could see the smoke in the distance – so I immediately referred to the CFA site – radio/TV had no inkling at that time – by the time the media got hold of the story – I already had the fire hoses out AND the neighbours organized

That is HOW important the CFA site is – and UNTIL the idiot pen-pushers realize this – we are stuffed.

(and this is WHY the CFA & Government recommend you LEAVE early if you are NOT planning on staying and defending - they can't guarantee you will be alerted in time)

I'll say it again and again and again - if you have NO INTENTIONS of defending your property - notify your neighbours and get the HELL OUT.

You are not just fighting for your life - you will be fighting for your sanity.

Victorian Lives at Risk.

Are You Prepared to Stay or Go?

Things NOT to do When Confronted by Fire?

Are You Prepared for a Bushfire?

The Rest of my Fire Blog - PLEASE READ

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Victorian Publics’ Lives at Risk

Today the 16th December 2009 is the day the media claim is the first day that Victoria’s fire services will be put to the test for the 2009-2010 Fire Season.

I have to say at 13:21hrs – The emergency services have failed the state.

The CFA website has been down and very glitchy all day – I thought it was my connection – but others have checked and no – I am right – The CFA website has been down.

12:18hrs down
12:20hrs up
12:29hrs down
12:30hrs down
12:33hrs down

12:35hrs up
12:40hrs up
12:44hrs up
12:49hrs up
12:58hrs up
13:21hrs up
13.31hrs Up
13:43hrs Down
13:46hrs down
13:48hrs down
13:49hrs down
13:56hrs down
14:03hrs Down
14:07hrs down
14:12hrs Down
14:14hrs down
14:16hrs down
14:18hrs down
14:22hrs down
14:23hrs down
14:28hrs down

14:32hrs up
14:37hrs up
14:53hrs down (time-out)
14:54hrs up (very slow)
14:57hrs up
15:00hrs up
15:06hrs up
15:10hrs up
15:16hrs up
15:18hrs up
15:22hrs up
15:24hrs up
15:26hrs up
15:30hrs up
15:33hrs up
15:45hrs up
15:49hrs up
15:54hrs up

At a CFA meeting for the public – a statement along the lines of “You will have to put up with the problems for accessing the site” – This is not a satisfactory response.

There is poor load capacity on servers and that comment is coming straight from CFA Head Quarters. There are ways and means to manage these problems. Some of the other causes appear to be the source coding with too many requests to other data sources and also that google tracking appears twice on the same page.

This is something that should concern ALL VICTORIAN’s.

It’s fine to say keep your eyes open, that the site information will be delayed, that it is your personal responsibility. This is ONE of the tools I use to monitor fire activity along with 100’s possibly 1000’s of other people.

Don’t we have a right to feel safe in the knowledge that tools we need to assess the danger are working and accessible to everybody state-wide?

Your thoughts, your ideas, welcome – if we can find a solution for the Emergency Services then let’s do it!

(last updated 15:56hrs - 16.12.09) - no further updates

It would appear that changes done yesterday were the cause of the problems - Things seem back to normal as at the last update.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Loss of power in residential premises

We have all experienced the moments where the power flickers, this comes from the power being switched to one grid to another OR where there is a high wind and the lines overhead touch.

To lose power for an extended period of time is unusual for city residents. That means no air con for the hot days and often no heating for the cold days. That is one of the inconveniences. It might last for 1-2 hours. So no TV, no microwave, no general modern day type activities.

For 1-2 hours this is not a concern, for 5-6 hours or longer, it is of a slightly greater concern.

Some of the things that you may not be able to use:-
1. Telephone (elec handsets) – from the onset of power loss
2. Internet if PC based – from onset of power loss
3. Water (Shower, Toilet, Kitchen) – if you rely on tank water- from onset of power loss
4. No cooking, if you require electricity to cook – from onset of power loss
5. Roller Doors for garages and carports – from onset of power loss
6. Television – from onset of power outage
7. Air Conditioning/Heating – from onset of power outage
8. Alarm clocks – from onset of power outage
9. NO charging of iPods, phones etc – 12 hours after the fact, you will need to recharge
10. The freezer might actually start to dethaw – 12-24 hours after power outage
11. Lights – at nightfall

How to overcome such problems:-
Telephones – make sure you have a handset, even if not on display, that you can connect into the socket, that does not require 240v, problem solved
Internet – Tough – go without, replace getting your news updates with radio (battery operated of course)
Water – (for those of us on tank water) try and make sure you have the kettle full as a matter of habit and if feasible, set up a gravity feed line, (riser) only used in emergencies
Cooking – get the Gas BBQ out and cook the meat from the freezer, boil water, use your imagination
Roller Doors, make sure you understand the manual override and practice using it occasionally
Television – tough – refer internet solution
Air Conditioning – tough – get used to it
Heating – put on another jumper, if the heating requires an electric fan, turn off heating, or risk causing damage to heating appliance
Alarm Clocks – have a battery operated/wind up alarm clock as an emergency or go to bed early and catch up on some missed sleep
Chargers – tough – get used to it
Freezer – Cover the freezer with as many blankets as possible, making sure that you do not leave the premises whilst covered as the power MAY be restored and you could cause the freezer to overheat. In the meantime – eat the contents, at each meal.
Night – use candles – perhaps placed IN jars to prevent them causing a fire, or lanterns like those you use outside.

You can also stock up on canned and dry foods, makes life a little easier in these types of emergencies.

Some people are more prepared than others, simply because their work might require generators or similar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be just as prepared without that sort of stuff.

Just because something has changed, doesn’t mean you can't change – as I state time and time again; The only person you can rely on is YOU.

Stay warm or cool – it’s not the end of the world, only a blip in the time-line.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Protecting Your Possessions Against Bushfire

I don't normally do this - as I like to put all my own 'stuff' together and not stuff my blog with other guff

Well - this is vitally important if you ever are affected by fire.(Which I hope not)

From the "The Australian Institute for the conservation of Cultural Material" they have put together some information that may help ease the heart-break and allow items to be salvaged.

Since the Black Saturday fires, we all recognise that fires of a catastrophic degree can cause extreme damage on a scale previously unimagined. However, stories that have emerged from the experience tell us also that some treasures did survive. Even some paper-based items miraculously endured intense heat, soot and fire. With careful storage and by using heat-resistant materials, certain risks can be reduced. While not a guarantee that items will not suffer damage, minimising risk through the storage methods recommended may offer some hope for items that have to be left behind on evacuation.
If you are affected by fires, the AICCM encourages you to retain any damaged keepsakes and memorabilia that are still recognisable, even if damaged and dirty. Consult a conservator before you throw them away. It is possible that they may be salvageable.
Please refer to this link for full details and downloadable information that can be of assistance, both, before and after.

Take care out there and remember a scanned photo, may not replace the original BUT, it preserves the image.

Refer my post about data storage and remember you can't always remember everything, especially when under pressure and worry -

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The failure of Last Resort Fire Refuges and CODE RED school registers

State of Victoria

The two can’t and won’t go together that’s perfectly okay. What is not okay is the haphazard, reckless, misinformed way these two ‘registers’ have been compiled and released to the public.

Schools that should be listed on the Department of Education’s Code Red Register are not. What will happen if and when a fire threatens? – Who will be responsible? I would like to think that the parents have withheld their children from school that day – but I can only hope and dream.

The Last Resort Fire Refuges listed on the CFA website and not compiled by them; leave much to be desired. Here is the list There are many areas that have been omitted from this list, so where are you meant to turn? Where is the safe refuge in your area? You don't know, you haven't been told. Makes you feel as though you and your families lives are not important, not important enough for a Last Resort Fire Refuge to be declared, anyway.

The CFA are not given keys to some of these premises, the only way to access these premises is using council staff, yet some councils are closing all public buildings on High Risk Fire Danger Days. So who will open these buildings for the public IF the need arises?

Or will the CFA have to use the master key, the bolt cutters and sledge hammer, to gain access and create more of a fire risk – by having open access points that cannot be sealed from ember attack?

The State Government at all levels are failing the people of Victoria, they are creating a mess, with interim report this and interim report that – I understand it’s hard to decide, but I honestly believe that open areas, like sports grounds, offer a far better form of protection, especially if the vehicles are driven on this turf, the ground is clear, there is often a road around said facility which offers a fire break to prevent grass fires.

Yes, there is still a risk posed, but I would far rather be in the open, than locked up in a building with the prospect of a stampede when someone panics.

Too many questions, too little time and it’s not just the country folk that should be paying attention to this – it’s also people living on the fringes of suburbs or even in the suburbs, you too could be affected by loss of power or even ember attack.

Please read thoroughly all articles HERE Pass the link around, and make sure everyone you care about knows – cut and paste the link and hand ball it – remember you can ONLY rely on yourself in times of emergency.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My father said……………………..

“You shouldn’t have come”, with tears in his eyes. My response was “and if the shoe had been on the other foot, what would you have done?” His response was “I would’ve come” My response, “Then please, don’t tell me what I should and should not have done.”

This conversation took place when we were still cleaning up the property in town some 9 months after the fact and was in relation to the fires and my escapades 8 hours after the fact.

He’s not coping, my mother pretends she is coping. I’m not coping, but like mother, like daughter I pretend I am coping. Deep down I know I am not.

There are many other people like me and my parents out there. We are all pretending we are managing; we have to for our family and our friends.

The posting of this into the blog is somewhat delayed from when it was written, simply due to other posting material which has been previously written and yet, this material could be posted some 12 months down the track and I am sure it would read exactly the same way.

Yesterday the 19th November 2009, saw the first day that could have posed a threat to my family, and I spent the entire day at work, thanking my lucky stars that my daughter was not home and praying that nothing would happen. There are people on my street that have no-one to care for them other than me. I was the only person on Black Saturday that stayed in contact with them and made sure that they were aware of what was going on and who they would be going with if and when the path of the fire changed.

South Australia and Victoria have had record breaking temperatures in the last 48 hours and I think that is only going to get worse. Hotter nights, even hotter days, winds and storms will increase and with that the increase in lightening strikes and fires getting away from our esteemed fire-fighters. As I have said previously and will continue to say, firefighters, paid and unpaid are our lifeline. Without them, these fires would devastate everything we know.

My father lost many friends, his home town of 40 years has been wiped from the face of the earth. There are 173 people dead, there are 1000’s of displaced people, wondering if they should re-build, wondering if they should move on. Wondering what life holds in store for them. Spare a thought, not just for those that lost their lives, but for those that have to live with the memory of those losses and the loss of property and their job and everything they once knew.

BTW – just because it has been said, doesn’t make it right, neither does it make it wrong. It just needed to be said to clear the air.

We all do things we sometimes regret, both words and actions, I regret neither. I did what had to be done and it shows that one woman in action can do much more than words.

Stay strong, stay safe and remember if you don’t feel safe, get out and save your life (and your mind). It is not just the event, but it is what you see and hear that can affect you for as long as you live.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do Council, Government & Insurance Co.'s have power to shut your business on HIGH fire risk days?

It looks like the ugly words – Public Liability and Personal Responsibility are now going to curtail your business opportunities, between the insurance companies and councils in fire risk areas, you won’t have much choice but to close your business that sells ice-creams on hot days. Possibly the busiest day/s of the year and you will be prevented from earning an income

You are going to be forced to close the doors, regardless.

Closed:- Schools, Childcare Centres, Kindergartens, Council Offices

NOT Closed:- Old Age Facilities,

Clarification needed:- Safe Evacuation Points, Retail Outlets, Community Events

Macedon Ranges Council has already decided to shut council offices and premises on high risk days. Rumours abound that insurance companies will force the closure of businesses due to fire risk (yet must be happy to make a payout IF the premises and stock is left unprotected and lost due to fire)

The Falls Festival in Lorne, which boosts the town economy enormously, officialdom wants it moved to September.

Councils won’t advise on last choice fire refuges, even now as the fire season is upon us. They are going to let these refuges once again go by the by, because it is all too hard.

People are turning to the CFA for advice and the CFA can’t advise what they don’t know. They are not being told. They can only state what they are advised to state by those higher up the command chain.

The CODE RED School Register is incomplete; many schools that should be listed are not. Schools like Hurstbridge Primary School, Diamond Valley College, Whittlesea Secondary College, Whittlesea Primary School, St Marys Primary School in Whittlesea, Marymeade College in South Morang. There are only some of the schools that should be listed and are not.

I understand the need for care, I understand the need for reduced liability, we are the sue now and think later nation after all. But what happened to personal responsibility?

What happened to being accountable for your own actions? What happened to being aware of your surroundings?

Are we so truly dumbed down and babysat by the Government that we can’t think for ourselves?

Let’s look at things from a different angle, most public pools are located on public land, thus under council regulations, will the pools be forced to close on high risk days? Which would also happen to be their busiest days of the year.

A pool would have to be one of the safest places to be with a fire approaching. Let’s kill two birds with the one stone, stuff the cars, animals and houses, let them burn. If you are worried about your personal safety use the local swimming pool as a refuge. You could swim while waiting for death to approach.

Make your plans, rely on no-one but yourself, because nobody else but YOU can decide where YOU are best off staying or evacuating to, ONLY YOU.

Take care

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I’ve was never so scared

It was Thursday, the 26th November 2009, a storm warning was issued for Melbourne, I had been talking to people about a dust storm and then decided to check the BOM site for weather warnings. A storm warning had been issued, and no sooner had I sighted the warning, than it was upon us.

I rang my daughter, she is about 30km further north than where I am located and told me that she was okay but thinks the house had taken a direct lightening hit, as the door frames had turned blue and although she was shaken, she was okay. It was absolutely bucketing and windy. She was hanging up the phone to mop up the water that had entered the house. I was unsure as to how the water had entered to house. That was the least of my concerns.

I tried to ring back some 5-10 minutes later to check how everything was going and there was no answer. Tried the mobile. No answer. My heart is in my mouth. I’m sure as a parent – you are feeling worried also.

Ringing, ringing, ringing, no answer. Getting more worried as the seconds tick past. Start ringing the neighbours. No answer there either, start ringing the mobiles. No answer. I am seeing my house going up in smoke, with the neighbours trying to rescue my daughter.

I hit the panic button and ring my husband, telling him to get home NOW. There is no answer on any phones, the neighbours aren’t answering, the house was flooded. My imagination is running well and truly in overdrive.

Can’t leave work, the nation-wide servers have crashed, the phone system is down. Everyone is panicking!

Finally people from the street start calling/texting. Daughter is okay, the house is fine. 50mm of rain in 15 minutes,. Nothing could be heard apparently. Landlines are down, minor flooding, not sure about the roof, but daughter is alive.

(I had images of her, laying on the floor in a pool of water, dead)

By the time I get home, some 5 hours later, water cleaned up, roof not holed, one landline down, the other the only working one in the street. Neighbours are queuing up to use the phone to report the faults. It’s now Monday mod-morning and still no landlines, or internet.

But everyone is alive and well

(Update - phones re-instated Tuesday, apparently the lightening literally fried the wires in the ground, only left strands not bundles of wires! Still no strike site visible, but was extremely close)