The Australian wildfires, which dominated the news headlines for weeks during the southern hemisphere’s summer of 2019-2020, are now effectively over, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. What’s more, the drought that helped contribute to the devastating wildfires is also essentially over.
A few wildfires are still burning here and there, in the state of New South Wales specifically. But they’ve all been contained, thanks to heavy rains over the past several days. None of the fires are currently burning out of control, and the region’s fire officials hope to fully extinguish them soon, said Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers.
“After what’s been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents who have suffered through so much this season, all fires are now contained in [New South Wales], which is great news,” he said.
It seems that the recent spate of heavy rains has also turned around the worst of the years-long drought that contributed to this season’s deadly wildfires, allowing them to spread rapidly.
Warragamba Dam, near Sydney, is now at 73.9 percent of its capacity. Nearby Cordeaux Dam, which had reached a low-water level of 36.5 percent, is now back up to 70.4 percent. On average, all of New South Wales’ dams are at or near 75 percent.
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Warragamba Dam: Water levels have increased 26.4% over the last 7 days. Dam water storage is currently sitting at 69.3% with 1.4 mega litres stored. 199.4mm of rain fell over Warragamba over the last week – 548mm fell over the same area over the last year. #WarragambaDam #7NEWS
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. Though the heavy rains have brought much-needed relief in fighting the fires and reversing the drought that helped them, it has also brought its own set of problems.
The rains, coming in quick succession, have caused floods that knocked out power to thousands of Australians, including around 19,000 customers in the north of Sydney.
Similarly, multiple beach areas have been closed until further notice, whether due to debris washed away from the floods polluting the waters, or due to hazardous surf conditions.
Though the fires are now contained and the drought appears to be over as well, the long-term effects of this season’s fires will be felt for years — if not decades.
Thousands of people have been left homeless, and thousands more need even the most basic of possessions, like clothing, blankets, and food.
In Michigan, as Grand Rapids’ WZZM-TV reports, a family has been raising money to help with wildfire victims in a town close to their heart.
Kathy and John Morrison’s son, Max, went to college in Australia, and Max grew to be close with his roommate and his family from the town of Budgong. The town has been devastated by the fires, and the Morrison family has raised thousands of dollars to help the community.