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Feedback from our trip to fire affected zones

Feedback from our trip to fire affected zones Photo by Debbie Burton

2000 Km, villages without count, and meeting many, many people. Seeing with eyes that see, hearing with ears that heard, and observing quietly, and digesting all that we experienced in our extended trip.

It has taken us a few days to recover from what we saw. Kilometers and kilometers of scorched earth, many people that have not yet woken-up from the nightmare of these two days. Many still living in denial, so many lives destroyed, so many lives lost … both human and animal, but what really got to me was seeing “new eucalyptus plantations” …

 

The results of the fires have not yet been dealt with and there are already new plantations? How come? How is it possible?

 

I guess anything is possible in this country of ours where profits are more important than lives both human and animal, than the environment … where powerful lobbies have government leaders totally controlled.

 

How is it possible that our leaders has lost their “power” to do the right thing? How is it possible that our leaders have lost their empathy and compassion? (Not talking about the selfies showing them “crying” crocodile tears)

 

We are left with so many questions, amongst them:

  1. How can people report losses without affecting their requests for assistance?
  2. How will the government deal with “unregistered property”?
  3. How will some of the people affected prove their official residence? (Taking into account the many that have selected an off-grid livelihood format?
  4. What is the process to request animal feed transport from the army?
  5. What is the process for subsistence farmers and non-members to gain access to animal feed groups and associations designated by the state? (Associations such as ANCOSE)
  6. How will the older generation (mainly subsistence farmers), who lost everything, have no transport, many are not computer literate or have telephones or mobiles going to be able to report their losses? Gain support?

But at the same time, we were also exposed to situations of abuse, where some families and individuals driven by “greed”? resorted to gain access to more than they should. We know of quite a few cases. Other questions that we have, relate to warehouses full of items that are no longer required. What will happen to these items? What is the final destination? Will they be sold as a means to gain funds to purchase needed goods such as animal feed, food, construction items, tools, etc? or? …

 

So many questions and so little answers …

But one reality remains, the people that where affected will require support, not only now but for many months to come. We concerned about the risks once the rains really starts, once snow hits the pick of Serra da Estrela, we worried about the risk of potable water contamination, villages cut off, and even the danger of illnesses.

The situation is not under control in spite of what government may say. We could be facing a second wave of disasters by year-end.  Will the support be there? Will central and local government bodies, associations - all of us – be there for them?

Only time will tell … in the meanwhile, more than anything, what is needed are “working hands on the ground” to help clean-up and rebuild, to help plant pastures for animals, to help wherever it may be needed in the short window that we have before the winter really sets in.

 

What is still needed?

  1. Assistance to report losses incurred by local residents
  2. Transport assistance - one of the biggest constraints is lack of sufficient vehicles and volunteers
  3. Photographic record of before and after clean-up operations, as support for future claims.
  4. Tools, seeds, trees - especially fruit, sheds for fire wood, animal protection and agricultural tools
  5. Animal feed (all types), vet treatment to injured and burned animals - including removal of animal carcases that still have not been collected or found.

If you want to volunteer and help there are many volunteering groups on the ground - don't just go on your own, join forces with these that knows what is really happening. You can get information in this link on Facebook (even in English): Rede Pronta

We will be helping as long as we can ... will you?

 

 

 

 

Comments   

 
0 # Yvonne Koster 2017-11-08 12:08
Thank You for publish this story. I am chocking to read about all this tragedy. When the fire was there, I Phone and writing to journalist in Holland. I am Dutch, but the most Newspapers don´t believe wat the reason is, about al this fire. I hear later about the money that many countries send to Portugal for help. But then little bit later, now body knows were the money was gone !
How is it possible ??? This is very shameful
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