While much of Australia is being devastated by some of the worst wildfires the continent has seen in decades, other parts of the country are seeing the opposite problem — severe flooding. Such was the case in the western part, as 3-year-old Matlida’s family learned.
The young lass and her pet — a Jack Russell terrier whose name was not provided — somehow wandered away from her loved ones and made it across a nearby creek. As heavy rains came into the region, Matilda and the pup got separated from help when the creek rose.
At about 4 p.m. local time on Monday, her family reported her missing. Soon, police and volunteers, including a group of riders from a nearby horse-riding group, began scouring the area for any sign of the girl or the dog.
After 24 hours without food or shelter, a helicopter spotted the girl, about two miles from her home. Authorities on the ground were then dispatched to her location.
Though caked in mud, she was otherwise okay. Her dog sat beside her, guarding her.
The girl and her pet were soon reunited with their family.
Though the rains came perilously close to costing a young child her life, elsewhere in the Land Down Under, the downpour is bringing the tiniest sliver of blessed relief to the country, which has been bedeviled for months by wildfires. The blazes have leveled whole towns and have devastated the continent’s wildlife, possibly doing irreparable damage to its ecosystem.
With the help of the much-needed rain, authorities have been able to get the upper hand on at least some of the bushfires still burning across the country.
In a tweet, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service noted that the rain is welcome, but it’s certainly not going to be enough to extinguish all of the fires currently raging.
Relief is here for a number of firefighters working across NSW. Although this rain won’t extinguish all fires, it will certainly go a long way towards containment. This footage was captured down at the Good Good Fire burning near Cooma. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/fxV9u2hN6K— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 16, 2020
As of Thursday morning, 85 bush and grass fires were burning across New South Wales, with 30 to be contained, the fire service said.
Unfortunately, the rains haven’t exclusively been good news. Though water has been welcome, the storms have also brought along lightning, which has itself kicked up even more bushfires, as CNN reports.
Meanwhile, as Australia’s bone-dry summer transitions into winter, rainfall in the coming months is expected to be near-normal — if not normal — levels. That’s not going to be enough to reverse the drought that has been at least partially responsible for this summer’s wildfires.