How you can help victims of Australia’s devastating wildfires

U.S. & World

Firefighters drag a hose to battle a fire near Bendalong, Australia, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. Navy ships plucked hundreds of people from beaches and tens of thousands were urged to flee before hot, windy weather worsens Australia’s devastating wildfires. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

(WRIC) — The devastating wildfires in Australia have been raging since September, months earlier than is typical for the country’s annual wildfire season. So far, the blazes have killed 25 people, destroyed 2,000 homes and scorched an area twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland.

The fires have exacted a grisly toll on the country’s wildlife, with carcasses of kangaroos littering the sides of roadways. Hundreds of millions of wild animals are believed to have been killed in the blazes, along with thousands of livestock.

The first hints of the financial toll from the disaster began to emerge Tuesday. The Insurance Council of Australia said the estimated damage bill had doubled in two days, with insurance claims reaching 700 million Australian dollars ($485 million).

RELATED: Australian crews race to contain blazes as damage bill soars

On Tuesday, 130 fires were still burning across New South Wales, around 50 of which were uncontrolled.

Here’s how YOU can help:

  • Donate to the Australian Red Cross. They have volunteers and recovery centers.
  • Give to the Salvation Army Australia. They launched a disaster appeal, providing shelter and meals to evacuees and front-line responders.
  • Give to the  St. Vincent de Paul Society. They are helping evacuated families cover bills and rebuild.
  • You can give to the Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger-relief charity.
  • 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 Save the Children. They have child-friendly evacuation centers providing support and relief to children and families as they focus on recovery and rebuilding.
  • Australian comedian Celeste Barber created a Facebook fundraiser for the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donation Fund that jointly supports the New South Wales fire brigade, as well as the Victoria Country Fire Authority and South Australia’s Country Service.

Helping wildlife

Checking in on loved ones

If you’re looking for a way to make sure your family and friends in Australia are safe, you can do so by Facebook’s Safety Check. The social media platform activated the safety check so residents and can alert loved ones about their safety status.

8News will continue to look for other ways you can help. Check back for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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