Victorian Bushfires – how you can help

Edit: please go to http://www.fireupdates.org/ for up to date information on ways to help.

You have probably caught up on the dreadful news about the bushfires here in Victoria, now apparently known as ‘Black Saturday’. Tragically, there are now over 181 people confirmed dead (predicted to reach  up to 300),  over a thousand homes lost and estimated five thousand left homeless. As far as I know there are still 31 fires burning.

I’ve been using Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs to check on friends, who are thankfully safe. They tell me their communities will obviously be recovering from this for a very, very long time. My husband and I have been following Twitter hashtag #bushfires to find out how you and I can help. I’m posting this ‘unofficia’l list here for friends not on Twitter.

DONATE

  • You can donate to the Red Cross Bushfire appeal  1800 811 700 or in the UK, British Red Cross
  • You can donate at Myers and at Bunnings.
  • The Salvos have also launched a cash and donations appeal. For international donations, please go through http://www.salvationarmy.org and specify you want ‘Australian Bushfire Appeal’
  • Vinnies have launched an appeal
  • Telstra will be making a donation and additionally matching dollar for dollar employee contributions up to $250,000.
  • Donations are sought for animals caught in the fires
  • You can donate blood (urgently needed ) 13 14 95 to make an appointment (update: please use web to register as phone lines overloaded – hat tip to Dani for the comment)
  • Some major banks have now set up bank accounts for online donations

SHOP

TAKE ACTION

  • Some people are offering help (homes, paddocks etc) and you can too on or call  1800 006 468 . Some were leaving offers of help on an ABC blog (update: comments now closed) and now via http://forums.tradingpost.com.au/Topic2806-89-1.aspx @DebbieChang asks on Twitter if anyone could think about setting up a webby way to match offers of homes and people needing immediate accommodation (although I guess DHS  might need to be involved??)
  • Join the Vic Bushfires Causes group on Facebook
  • Join the “Applaud the CFA heroes and empathis with the victims of the 09 Vic bushfires” Facebook Group
  • via @vicpremier Anyone willing to volunteer time and skills should call the Bushfire Volunteer Hotline on 1300 366 356 or visit – http://tinyurl.com/b8vb2l
  • Be prepared. Make sure your home is fire-safe and that you have a fire plan in place
  • Leave a message of personal support and care http://victorianbushfires.com

It’s very encouraging to see friends in Australia and overseas reaching out to these communities with compassion. I hope you can too.

You can read more about the Australian social media response to the bushfires over on Lee Hopkin’s blog.

Update: if you know of any other things people can do to assist, please leave a comment. I believe that donations of toys and clothes are not needed this week (hold off until next week) but for now, cash and blood donations needed most urgently.