As many rang in the New Year, celebrating with friends and family. I was back home in Australia, helping my best friend pack up her house, preparing to flee the bushfires.
After spending a few weeks in Queensland with my family, I flew into New South Wales to spend a few days with Bobbie-Jo before returning to America. Immediately upon landing in Sydney, I could smell the smoke. Queensland wasn’t affected by the fires like New South Wales was, and as we got closer and closer to her house, the smoke got thicker and thicker.
Surprisingly, the bushfires were still about 30kms (18 miles) from her home, but you would have thought they were right around the corner.
With a five-month-old baby, Bobbie-Jo knew she would need to leave at some point, and authorities had even told them, “it’s not a matter of if the fires come, it’s when.” We had initially planned to leave on Dec. 30 as she wanted to get Mackinley out of the smoke, but on that day, there was no smoke to be seen for miles.
So we stayed.
As we prepared to bring in the New Year with friends and family at her home by throwing a few snags on the barbie and watching the fireworks over the Sydney Harbor on the telly, excitement quickly turned to fear as smoke poured into our backyard.
One minute it was beautiful and clear outside, and within seconds I couldn’t see past the back porch. Several grass fires had popped up close to our house, and we suddenly found ourselves unable to leave the house. We were trapped.
Thankfully, local firefighters were able to contain those few fires close to home, and we were able to leave the next day. We drove an hour to her mother-in-law’s house closer to Sydney, yet still, her house wasn’t completely safe. Bushfires were all around.
Now back in America. I, like the rest of the world, must watch from afar and pray for rain. Despite what some media outlets are reporting, the entire continent of Australia is not on fire. And, honestly, we don’t want the world to think that as tourism is a massive part of Australia and our economy. Let’s be real everyone wants to visit Australia and YOU SHOULD. However, with the loss of human and animal life and the millions of acres of land lost, it will take a toll on our country for many months to come. So I ask, please pray for my home country.
But while the world watches Australia, we, Lamar County, had to watch our backs after Mother Nature recently threw wild weather our way. Tornado season is right around the corner, but I didn’t expect to fly back into America after escaping the bushfires only to cover tornado warnings.
With all that is going on in the world, it made me think – is it better to be safe than sorry?
When I first moved to America, I lived in Colorado, and my boss told me always to keep water and a jacket in my car. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? I also quickly learned that it is also smart to keep enclosed shoes in your car after I walked into the mall graced by sunny skies only to walk out to snow falling. These days I’ve got jackets, shoes, water and who knows what else in my car but, hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Since moving to Paris, I now keep an “emergency backpack” next to my back door that contains the essentials that I might need should I have to leave my house immediately. Flashlight, pocket knife, survival whistle, emergency blankets, granola bars and snacks, water, blanket, matches, dog collars and leashes, a phone charging pack, and more.
Now I’m not a “doomsday prepper” by any means, but I didn’t think I’d be helping my best friend pack up her house preparing to escape bushfires either. As I said, It’s better to be safe than sorry, and I encourage you to make sure you have an emergency plan in place with your family should you ever need it. I pray you never will need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
And, thankfully, my best friend was able to return home to an untouched house recently, however, there still aren’t out of the woods. Once again, pray for Australia.