Recently, the town of Port Macquarie on the NSW mid north coast has suffered extreme conditions and considerable challenges with the occurrence of several out of control bushfires, which surrounded the town from all sides.
Normally this blog focuses on liturgical events and special occasions; topics that are of interest to the religion educator and that complement the religious education resource that we create. Readers may not be aware that the Understanding Faith office is actually located in Port Macquarie, as our amazing product was the brainchild of our much loved and dearly departed parish priest, Father Leo Donnelly. So, these tragic and disastrous fires have had a direct impact on us here at Understanding Faith, as well as our colleagues, families and friends.
The fires in Port Macquarie have caused hundreds of evacuations as well as the closure of schools and many businesses. Us included! The resulting air quality index in the last few days has been the highest in the world! Estimates of wild life loss are devastating, with two-thirds of our famous local koala population being decimated. Almost 500 homes have been lost in New South Wales and the burnt area across the state covers more than 1 650 000 hectares.
It is not dramatic to say the last few weeks in Port Macquarie, and across NSW have been catastrophic.
But now for the silver lining.
It is during times like these that we are reminded that the goodness of humanity is still alive and well. Thriving even. Because during this time of loss and devastation, the community support shown has been outstanding. It can be seen everywhere. From people opening up their homes to complete strangers, to the thousands of dollars raised in donations for those in need. The Port Macquarie Koala hospital began a Go Fund Me campaign in an effort to raise $25 000 to cope with the added stresses of the fire and in an extremely short time, almost $500 000 was raised! I’ve seen Facebook posts and newspaper articles about food and clothing donations, I’ve seen businesses offering free services or donating part of their profits to those in need and emergency services.
At times like these, it makes me proud to be part of such an amazing community. A community who comes together when needed. A community who makes sure people know they are not alone, and will not be left to fend for themselves.
The St Agnes parish has also been integral in supporting those in need. Not only staff members, some of whom have been directly impacted, but also throughout the broader community.
So thank you to the Port Macquarie community and to the broader NSW community. Particularly all of the firefighters and other emergency services who have left their families and friends to rush to the scene of the fires and put their own lives on the line.
In this catastrophic time, we can find some peace in knowing that humanity is alive and well, as the ability for humans to love and show compassion during this time of crisis has been extraordinary.