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St. Joseph woman watches Australian bushfires burn home country

A woman who lives in St. Joseph said she feels helpless watching tragedy unfold across the world where bushfires ravaged her home country of Australia.

Posted: Jan 10, 2020 12:50 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2020 12:50 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A woman who lives in St. Joseph said she feels helpless watching tragedy unfold across the world where bushfires ravaged her home country of Australia.

Claire Clark moved to the U.S. from Perth and now lives with her husband in the St. Joseph area.

Clark, a community health coordinator at Mosaic, said it’s never been easy living thousands of miles away from her family and friends, but it’s been hard to watch the coverage of the fires knowing much of the damage is irreversible.

According to officials, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed and at least 27 people have died.

“That’s what’s really heartbreaking,” Clark said. “You can rebuild a house but you can’t save someone’s lives or animals' lives.”

Additionally, officials estimate hundreds of millions of animals have died.

“It’s really hard looking at those photos, especially as an animal lover,” Clark said.

Perth located on the western coast is far away from New South Wales and Victoria, the hardest-hit areas in the country.

“There is so much bushland and the minute one of those embers goes, it's horrible,” Clark said.

Three weeks ago, she visited a family living in the Sydney area. Although the fires were miles and miles away, the smoke had turned the air thick and yellow, she said.

“The sun was just the most eerie color,” Clark said. “I’ve grown up in Australia my whole life and I’d never seen anything like it. Ever.”

Last year was officially the hottest and driest year on record in Australia. The record-setting year creating conditions that have kindled hundreds of bushfires since September 2018.

“When it’s windy like that, all it takes is one leaf to light a whole new fire up,” Clark said.

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