Sydney: Australia’s ‘black summer’ of devastating bushfires is finally coming to a close, but bitter arguments over how to tackle climate-fuelled disasters are raging on.
When firefighters announced this week that all blazes in the hard-hit state of New South Wales were under control for the first time since September, the relief was palpable.
In other regions, a few fires are still being contained, but most Australians can finally abandon the grim rituals of the last half-year — morning checks of smog monitors and ”Fires Near Me” apps, deciding whether the kids can play outside, whether to flee or defend their homes.
But the after-effects will endure, and national soul searching has already begun.
”We know events like these can challenge the way we think about the world, undermine our perceptions of safety, and rupture social bonds,” said disaster response expert Erin Smith.
Dozens of families have lost loved ones, thousands of homes and farms have been gutted, swathes of the east coast are scarred charcoal-black and millions have had their sense of security shaken.
”It will likely take years and a great deal of imagination for us to figure out where we go from here,” said Smith.