Outpouring of support for Tassie victims

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Panic has been the theme, as bushfires tore through most Eastern States, with Tasmania the worst hit. Tasmania is reeling after spot fires turned into out of control bushfires, helped by the extremely dry conditions blanketing most of Australia. Authorities are still sifting through the ruble and are assessing the damage, but concerns for missing persons have all but been dismissed as the week comes to an end. The Greek Community of Tasmania has been inundated with calls asking to assist those effected in any way. President John Fiotakis says there has been an outpouring of support from young and old. “The Greek Women’s Committee has gone to help, making food and sandwiches, delivering clothing,” he told Neos Kosmos. “A lot of Greek boat owners have been asked to do shuttle runs to Port Arthur and some of the other places where there’s been no access, and a lot of Greek businesses have been asked to assist in the fires, whether it be with food or with transport.” Of the almost 5,000 Greeks who live in Tasmania, many have properties in the outer suburbs affected. They, alongside their Australian neighbours are in shock at the complete devastation that has ripped a community apart. Prime Minster Gillard has toured some of the worst effected areas this week, including the smoking shell of the local primary school in Dunally. In Tasmania, more than 130 properties have been destroyed by bushfires, decimating small towns in just hours. Hundreds have been left without transport, food or electricity, and rely on deliveries everyday from aid groups and locals. Mr Fiotakis says the Greek community has been working very closely with local councils and emergency services to do all they can. “Some of our young Greeks have been doing convoys to deliver food to areas that they can’t get to, obviously with police assistance,” he mentions. The community has even given emergency services the use of their hall, which has been used as a refuge centre since last Friday. But the good will of many people might have gone to waste, with reports looters and thieves stole handbags and fuel when 2000 residents fled the area, leaving their belongings and cars behind. The week has seen some of the worst fire danger days Australia has collectively seen, with most States sweltering through days in the high 30s and mid 40s for almost a week. NSW and Victoria have been battling strong bushfires that have destroyed properties and caused panic in several rural communities. In Victoria, authorities are incensed by the numerous arson attacks around the state, threatening homes and destroying cars. Four fires were lit in an industrial area at Sunshine, across the valley from where a string of fires were deliberately lit at Keilor East. Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board Commander Bob Undy said investigators believe the same group of arsonists is responsible for the attacks. “I don’t know what kicks they get out of it but they have got to live with it if anything goes wrong.” Insurance companies will be closely watched to make sure those affected get their claims processed without hassle. In Tasmania, amazing tales of survival have captured the nation, and pictures relayed globally. A family clinging to a jetty as the sky darkened and embers surrounded them have unknowingly become the face of the Tasmanian bushfires. Tim Holmes, stuck in the water with his wife and five grandchildren said the fire raged around them for three hours along the wooded point. “So everything was on fire and it was just exploding all over the place. Yeah, amazing. Just scorched,” he said. Mr Fiotakis has never seen his state in such turmoil, but is comforted by the fact that sometimes the worst situations bring the best out in people. “It’s been pretty hard the last week,” he says. “Every community comes close in these situations, it’s affected quite a lot”. On the ground, at least 300 firefighters and 2000 volunteer firefighters gave up their time to contain the fires. The Federal Government has activated emergency relief payments for affected residents and the Red Cross has set up a bushfire appeal. To donate, call the Red Cross on 1800 811 700 or visit the website at http://www.redcross.org.au/last_img

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