This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
From the outside looking in, it might appear as though the most devastating bushfire season in Australia's recorded history is finally starting to abate. Rains are drenching the east coast; fires are burning out around the country; and new growth is emerging among the charred remains of scorched bushland. Yet even now, months after the fires reached their zenith, thousands of people are still reeling in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Many are living in tents and trailers, leaning on their neighbours for support and relying on the goodwill of strangers around the country to eat, drink, and survive as they attempt to rebuild among the ashes.
VICE visited the neighbouring towns of Quaama and Cobargo to hear the stories of bushfire survivors and meet the people living at the coalface of this environmental catastrophe. What is it like to lose your home overnight? What is it like to stay and defend? What's been lost; what's been saved? And what's going to happen now that the worst of the blazes have come and gone?
Together, these stories reveal the depth and breadth of devastation that's been wrought by the Black Summer bushfires—not just those impacts felt at the time of the disaster, but also the long-term repercussions that will continue to unfold in the months and years to come.