Saturday, December 15, 2012

The central Victorian goldfields town of Castlemaine has just had its Neighbourhood Safer Place changed from a sheltered park to the main shopping street.  Not to a building in the street but to the street itself.

This is ludicrous. Most buildings there, naturally, are shops.

What will shopkeepers and café  proprietors feel about the possibility of accommodating crowds of evacuees ('relocators') loaded with precious possessions and pets - dogs weeing and fighting, goats munching on the manchester ... ...? 

Perhaps those who have fled from their homes in direst fear, who are hot, tired and overwrought with worry, are meant to find refuge standing on the (admittedly non-flammable) footpaths  - on days of such heat, wind and breath taking dry air as will necessitate their evacuation. 

There aren't many seats in this street; there is  shade on only one side.

As the CFA warns: ‘people sheltering at an NSP are likely to experience extreme conditions such as heat, high winds, fire noise, and exposure to embers and radiant heat, and may experience breathing difficulties due to smoke and ash’.

Yet it expects Castlemaine’s ‘relocators’ to congregate in its CBD, a place where no one in their right mind - unless on dire business - goes on days such as that.

Remember: although 173  people died in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, 300 people died that day of heat exhaustion

NSPs, by official definition, are not meant to be safe; but they are also not meant to be perilous.