Wildfires have scorched millions of acres across Australia and there isn’t an end in sight.
This bushfire season is being considered the country's most devastating. So far, about 13.35 million acres have burned, more than 1,400 homes have been destroyed and at least 23 people have been killed in the fires, CBS News reported Monday.
Perhaps more devastating is the impact on the country’s wildlife. The University of Sydney estimates that about 480 million animals have been killed since the bushfires started in New South Wales in September, including kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. The 480 million figure includes mammals, birds and reptiles, but doesn’t include insects, bats or frogs. The university says the true loss of animal life is likely to be much higher.
Financially, the Insurance Council of Australia says the fires have caused an estimated 700 million Australian dollars ($485 million) in damage, reports The Associated Press.
That astounding number and the heartbreaking images coming out of the country can make you feel helpless, but there are different ways Americans can help from the other side of the world. Here are a few:
You can donate to the Australian Red Cross, which is supporting thousands of people in evacuation centers and recovery hubs. Donations go towards recovery programs and emergency assistance. They also contribute to funding for training, equipment, logistics and coordination of volunteers.
Salvation Army Australia is also accepting donations to help fund its teams that are responding to the devastating fires. Leaders of the organization says their teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders and will continue to provide whatever support is needed as the situation develops.
Foodbank Austrailia , the largest food relief organization in Australia, is also accepting donations. CEO Brianna Casey agrees with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in saying that monetary donations are preferred over clothes or food, because organizers don’t have the time, space or people sort through items, 7 News reports.
Helping Australian firefighters
With many Australian firefighters being unpaid volunteers, it’s important to support those who run towards emergencies like the wildfires. You can donate to Country Fire Authority (CFA) here or the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service here.
You can also donate through Australian actress Celeste Barber’s Facebook fundraiser, which is raising money for the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Brigade Donations Fund.
The Rural Fire Brigades Association in Queensland is also accepting donations to aid the crews fighting the fires in northeast Australia.
World Wildlife Fund Australia is accepting donations that will be used to care for injured wildlife and, once the fires have cleared, restore the habitats in which they live.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s is still taking donations, even though they’ve far exceeded their $25,000 goal. The hospital has rescued and treated many koalas that suffered severe burns in the fires. Funds raised will be used to install drinking stations in burnt areas to help wildlife searching for water and to establish a wild koala breeding program to make sure the species survives the natural disaster, CBS News reports.
You can also donate to RSPCA New South Wales, which is helping to protect pets and livestock in the areas affected by the fires.