Or maybe it's Smokey the Bear. Somebody the Bear. We need somebody to help us bear this burden.
The fires in Texas, specifically in and around Austin are awful.
And super scary.
Friends keep calling and texting and messaging me, "Are you okay?" and "I know you tend to freak out anyway, so I can't imagine you in a natural disaster..." or "Is it near you?"
I and my home are okay, for right now, but fires are dangerous. This video is 50 seconds long. Look how much ground the fire covers in 50 seconds.
The fires here have been burning for 3 days.
We've lost (at the latest report) all but 100 acres of Bastrop State Park. That was one of the only shaded hiking parks in the central Texas area. A very unique place. Gone. Well, the park's gone. But the fire isn't. Check out this website showing where the current fires are located in Texas. And this one shows the smoke concentrations. The news reported that astronauts in the space station can see the Bastrop fire smoke.
So can we.
That is Austin's downtown skyline (yesterday) taken from Mount Bonnell in West Austin.
The last report I heard said that over 700 homes had been affected (destroyed) by the fire. The human casualty list is very low (only 2 dead I think), which is good, but it's still a really sad, sad story.
Here's a picture from today...
Crazy. You can't imagine what it's like driving on the highway, going to work or coming home from the grocery store and seeing the smoke.
The major parts of Austin that have been hit are Steiner Ranch (where many really rich West Austiners live), Bastrop as I mentioned, Leander, and today we added a fire on Parmer near Mopac.
The amount of land that has been burned by fire in Texas this year is equivalent to the state of Connecticut. CONNECTICUT. What? What's worse, our govenor, Rick Perry (who is running for President), cut funding to our fire departments 75% this year. Yep, this was not helpful. FEMA, please come quick.
On the other side of scary though, people are being so generous. We've had volunteer fire fighters, Bastrop had to evacuate an animal shelter, I've seen posts by people on FB offering up stalls on farms for people who are trying to figure out what to do with their horses, people opening homes and bedrooms, it's really great. And Facebook has been wonderful for that.
If you want to know how to help, there are lots of places to look...
If you live in the area...
- Austin Pets Alive has most of the animals who were in the Bastrop shelter. Foster an animal!
- KUT lists where you can donate items for victims of the fires. So does KVUE. (I've heard the firefighters need socks). My friend (and former student!) Anna Taylor made a google map of all the places you can donate stuff. You go girl.
- The Distribution Center for displaced people in Bastrop has been calling for volunteers. So contact them if you're free.
- And you can help by feeding firefighters Wednesday 3:30-6:30 at the Bastrop Civic Center too!
- Or if you own a business, how can you help others? U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for fire victims!
Or you can call or donate money to...
Additionally, you don't have to be in the area, but there's a call out for lawyers too. If you can take calls and help answer victims questions, contact email@example.com.
Overall, the Facebook Central Texas Wildfire Recovery page seems to be really helpful for people wanting to help :)
So that's the scoop. I'm fine, but others are not.