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I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
Though earth holds many splendours
Wherever  I may die
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly…. Dorothea McKellar

This morning, here in Australia, we are waking up to a lovely spring day for most of the country. Maybe a few showers here and there but nothing too drastic.  Our friends across the seas woke up to the dreadful aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.   The scale of the storm and the amount of people affected by it is just too hard to fathom and is desperately heartbreaking.   The news here in Australia is reporting a death toll  of around 39 already.  Lives shattered, hearts broken.

We understand how devastating this kind of natural disaster is.  I was only 13 when Cyclone Tracy ripped through Darwin.  The television showed  images of loss and destruction which will be burned in my memory forever.  The Ash Wednesday bushfires were  even more personal as they were in my area and I knew people affected by them.  Once again, the devastation was incomprehensible.

We watched parts of Queensland being washed away by floods and Victoria once again burning during Black Saturday. We were shocked when Newcastle was rocked by an earthquake and  then cried with our New Zealand neighbours as Christchurch was decimated by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks.  Only a year ago, we were without power for nearly 5 days when destructive winds tore through Blackheath, NSW where I was living.  It was such a scarey time.

We are a land of droughts and flooding rains.  It’s something we celebrate in poetry and song.  It sounds so romantic until the reality hits.  Until we see our farmers in their dry, dusty paddocks, crops and livestock laying dead or dying all around them.  Until we see a mother and son being swept away after handing another child into the arms of a rescuer. Until we see families returning to the burned charred remains of what was once their home, picking through the blackened, twisted and melted blobs that once were their belongings.

The  cost of rebuilding is always astronomical but can’t even begin to be compared with the cost to human life.  Families trying to move on after a natural disaster is hard enough but having to do it whilst coping with the grief of having lost a loved one is unthinkable.  Property can be replaced.  People can’t.

It is because of natures excesses in this great land of ours, that we, as Aussies,  are today sending our love and thoughts to our American friends, known to us or not.  We hope the death toll doesn’t rise much higher, that the damage to the infrastructure of cities isn’t as bad as it first seems and that life can return to some semblance of normality as quickly as possible.  Our hearts go out to those who are grieving loved ones and pray you will find come comfort in the kindness of strangers.

Thinking of you all…. Livvy xxx

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