Just over a week ago I had never heard of little towns in Victoria such as Whittlesea, Kinglake, Healesville and Marysville. Now all we hear and read about are these (once) beautiful little towns and the terrible bushfires that have caused over 1800 homes and hundreds of lives to be lost.
I sit and listen to the stories coming from these places and can't even comprehend what people have been through - such as people making split second decisions about whether or not to take their two babies into a raft on a dam to try to save their lives, or to drive through the fire, hoping they would get through. On Sunday I heard that the death toll was 45 people. We couldn't believe it. Now the death toll is 181 and will rise as they find more bodies.
I sat glued to the TV all day Monday as I watched live coverage. I had that sick feeling in my stomach all day, and actually ended up turning it off, as all the boys were home and I was sitting in tears half the morning. I kept thinking that if I was feeling like that and I'm only watching it on TV, then what were the people that had been in the fires going through.
Over a week ago I had also never heard of the CFA.
Now whenever I hear about the CFA I know that they are amazing men and women - many of whom are out fighting fires, as their own homes are burnt to the ground.
Despite the sadness that we are seeing and hearing everyday, I have never been more proud to be an Australian. To hear that we have all donated over 100 million dollars is amazing. We were glad that we could donate money and clothes but I still feel like I want to do more. I wish I had the time to just go up there and volunteer and help out. I just heard on the news they are asking for more volunteers and now want donations of tools. I love reading about friends like Kylie who always jumps in and does as much as she can to help out, or hearing about Mum buying a sausage at a sausage sizzle for $20 because she knew the funds were going to the bushfire victims, or hearing about the grade 8 boy at Aaron's school who handed over $50 when the prefects went around collecting money.
The best thing is hearing about people who were in the area but were okay especially Devin's Mum. It's amazing to hear how people survived or houses were saved, especially when so many were lost. I saw this amazing sattelite photo today of smoke reaching as far away as New Zealand.
Out of all the stories I think everyone will remember 'Sam' the koala who drank three bottles of water given to him by a CFA worker. It was even shown on TV all around the world.
I've been touched by journalists and politicians and how they have openly grieved with the survivors.
I have loved seeing celebrities visit the communities affected and seeing how just them being there, has brought some smiles to the kids faces again.
To those who have lost loved ones and homes, we are thinking of you.