Amid the horrors of the country’s worst bushfires ever, and amid disputes over their cause and fear of what is yet to come, Australians have organized a series of grassroots disaster-relief networks — many through social media — offering a wide range of help to thousands of people who were displaced in recent weeks, NBC News reports.
Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals have also linked up in fire-affected areas, working together to assess and meet considerable challenges, both immediate and longer-term. Several coastal doctors have complained about being shut out of disaster management. Power outages left hospitals, clinics and chemists running on petrol generators. Official advice not to drink tap water has now been lifted in large swaths of the coast, but electricity is still out in many areas and full recovery will take a long time.
Australians, however, have banded together to try to help where emergency services have fallen short. Some have rallied around members of local Aboriginal communities on the south coast of New South Wales and many other fire-affected parts of the country, concerned that some may be left out of the loop on emergency warnings or relief efforts.
Two new websites have sprung up to connect displaced Australians with people offering temporary accommodation. Daniel Ferguson of Snake Valley, Victoria, launched Helping Homes on Jan. 3. Around the same time, Sydney writer Erin Riley started Find a Bed, spreading the word through her 10,000 Twitter followers.