What you can do to help in Australian wildfire crisis

Posted at 1:55 PM, Jan 06, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The images out of Australia are heartbreaking. For weeks, walls of smoke and fire have been terrorizing communities.

More than 12 million acres have burned - that is three times the size of the California wildfires that occurred in 2018.

Firefighters hose down trees as they battle against bushfires around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019. - Thousands of holidaymakers and locals were forced to flee to beaches in fire-ravaged southeast Australia on December 31, as blazes ripped through popular tourist areas leaving no escape by land. (Photo by SAEED KHAN / AFP) (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

"If you can imagine with wildfires, they move so fast, " said Jonathan McNamara, Communications Director with the American Red Cross of Virginia.

So far, 23 people are confirmed dead; more than 1,400 homes flattened and 500 million birds, reptiles and mammals have perished.

"If you can imagine in the middle of the night you are stirred from your home forced to evacuated under unimaginable conditions and we have seen people driving through walls of fire," explained McNamara.

The Australian Red Cross is leading the charge on the ground. News 3 spoke to McNamara to get a sense of the large-scale relief effort.

"So far, over 1,200 responders are supporting over 69 evacuation centers," said McNamara. "The Red Cross is helping in facilities and also providing  physiological aid to those displaced, giving them a place where they can get out and get safe and take stock of what will help next in their lives."

The need for help is far from over, and you can help even from thousands of miles away.

Here are a few options:

  • Donate to the Australian Red Cross.
  • Give to the  St. Vincent de Paul Society. They are helping evacuated families recover by providing food, money for bills, clothing and more.
  • You can give to the Foodbank, the largest hunger-relief charity in Australia.
  • Give funds to the  New South Wales Rural Fire Service. The service has set up specific funds for the families of volunteer firefighters who have been killed while on duty this fire season.
  • Donate to WIRES, a wildlife rescue nonprofit that is rescuing and caring for thousands of sick, injured and orphaned native animals.