The end of this long sequence was sent in a Tweet, 175 characters and yet another photo of charred trees. « For the first time since early July 2019, there is currently no active bush or grassland fire in New South Wales », wrote on Monday March 2, the firefighters of the Australian state most affected by the fires, until the rain finally extinguished the last fire. A Tweet passed almost unnoticed in a country still groggy by the magnitude of the disaster and where everyone realizes that it will take many months before knowing the exact extent of the damage, and years to restore what can be.
« What will the future look like? Frankly, I don’t know, ”says Margaret Tadrosse
For 240 consecutive days, fires devoured the southeast of the mainland, killing 33 people, destroying more than 3,000 homes and devastating 12.6 million hectares of forest. « What will the future look like? Frankly I do not know « , mourns Margaret Tadrosse, 57, who lost 6,000 apple trees and 3 million Australian dollars in investments (nearly 1.8 million euros), on December 21, when flames swept over her orchard, in the small town of Bilpin, 80 kilometers from Sydney. « I cannot afford to restore my plots and despite all the steps I have taken, I have not received a penny from anyone. «
While many Australians have turned to their insurance companies – which across the country could pay up to A $ 1.3 billion to compensate their customers -, Margaret Tadrosse, like many others, knows she won’t touch anything. « I was insured against hail but not fire. The risk seemed minimal to me and it would have cost me too much. « , she explains, distraught. However, it hopes to be able to count on some of the aid promised by the authorities. In particular, the federal government has set up an agency with a $ 2 billion envelope to support the reconstruction effort.
« The drama continues »
According to a study by the Australian National University, 75% of the population was affected by these fires, 3 million people directly and 15 million indirectly. Among them are the residents of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, who have repeatedly inhaled toxic fumes. The long-term consequences for their health remain unknown at this time.