Posted by: robert
Date: February 09, 2009 11:13PM
Many individual stories are now emerging on the news - at least one tv channel here has cancelled most of the scheduled shows and is simply broadcasting crosses to various locations. Surprisingly, the media has been mostly very dignified: I guess that's what happens when things are beyond sensationalising and you have the presenters on the ground who have been living with the people who have lost everything, friends and families - it's become a very personal thing for the presenters. For many of them, they are representing themselves as human beings for perhaps the first time in their careers.
When the dust settles there will, of course always be the overall, 'big story' of the fires, and the documentaries and 'Specials' will roll out. The real stories will be small, individual ones; but they will be in the millions - most of them shared amid tears only between friends and loved ones - of last minute escapes, of staying to fight, of deaths and losses, of sacrifices and heroism by ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
You get a glimpse or a glimmer, sometimes, of these stories as people are interviewed - they give out a few words, and their eyes well up, and that is about all that they can verbalise to share. Their words are unadorned and they convey all that one needs to know in order to make one feel very humble in comparison.
Last night I watched an interview with a young man who had remained in a town, which no longer exists, attempting to help others to escape and he, himself, had to be rescued by his brother who broke through police barricades to drive back into the inferno ("He's my brother, I wasn't going to leave him behind."). In the interview the sister of the first brother said that there were several small children they were worried about and that the police were trying to find them. "I found them", whispered the young man, and he stared at his sister, "I found them." The interview concluded in a silence that said all of what he had seen.