Goodbye, for now. This blog will close until needed again.

I think we’re the only blog around that WANTS to be unneeded. As everything is pretty much back to normal apart from clean-up crews, train line repairs, and a few outlying areas, we’ll be shutting down this blog (unless/until further need arises).

We’d like to say a HUGE thank you to our submitters, volunteer journalists, and helpers. The ease of modern web services such as WordPress, Twitter, and Google, and the brilliance of wireless internet has meant we could do this even when we had no power.

For those curious, our toolset included:

  • Free WordPress.com blog (took 5-10 minutes to set up).
  • Twitter + WP’s built-in auto-tweet function.
  • Me on an iPhone + MacBook Pro tethered, Chris on an Android phone + PC.
  • Scraping news via Twitter, Google News, and Google with some special queries.
  • Our army of submitters πŸ™‚
None of it very special, or very hard to do… it took us about an hour to set it all up, and every couple hours we’d check in and do some updates. Granted, we’re geeks… this is what we do for a living, and if we can help use technology to improve local lives more in the future, we will do.

We still heartily believe that this is how local journalism should work. No-one knows the local happenings like the locals do, and no-one is more motivated to put the effort in than those that live in and love their local area. We could go on a rant here about how useless the “professional” media were last week, but I think you all get the point πŸ˜‰

And lastly, of course, a MASSIVE thank you goes out to the SES, local emergency services, outside services that came in to help, and volunteers who assisted in the rescue, clean-up, and repair of the area. You guys rock! Support your local volunteer services, because they’re the ones that do the hard & dirty work when it’s needed.

More support for upper-mountains clean up crews.

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Also some areas STILL without power:

Federal government assistance available for residents after NSW storms

Just saw this pop up in a few news streams:

NSW residents affected by this week’s stormy weather will be eligible for federal government disaster assistance.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland today said the help would be directed to the Blue Mountains, Oberon, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee areas.

“Storms and severe weather have impacted a number of areas across NSW, with many of these communities now undertaking clean-up work,” Mr McClelland said in a statement.

“The commonwealth government will continue to monitor the situation and stands ready to provide further assistance to affected areas.”

The assistance measure include access to grants, concessional interest-rate loans and transport freight subsides.

It will be provided to the NSW government through the nation’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery arrangements.

Seen onΒ NineMSN, Herald Sun, and more.

A few upper-mountains updates via Twitter.

http://twitter.com/#!/textileaudio/status/88959096253984768

I never thought i’d be happy to have a slow news day ;)

I’ve been scraping the news sites and Twitter feeds and there really isn’t much to report this morning.

I’m hoping this means that most people have power, and are back to a relatively normal life? If so: awesome! The one thing we’re looking forward to more than anything is for this site to not be needed, as it means everything is better.

We now we’re not QUITE there yet. There are still people in the upper mountains without power, and lots happening up there, but from our calls to friends/family it seems everyone from Katoomba downwards (apart from some outlying regions) seem to have all services back to normal, which is a nice start.

Trains are running normally from Katoomba downwards as well, and the highway is open.

I’ll keep trying to find out what I can for you upper mountains people. The latest updates i’ve heard are that power should be restored to most areas by the weekend, and trains will be running again from Monday.

Blue Mountains just got declared a Natural Disaster Zone

According to this tweet by Roza Sage (NSW Liberal Member for Blue Mountains), we just got officially declared a disaster zone.

This means more resources will be sent up here to help out in the recovery process.

SMH also has an article about it:

Parts of NSW have been declared natural disaster zones following 48 hours of wild winds and blizzard conditions.

The NSW government said severe weather in the past 48 hours had battered the Central West, North West Metropolitan, Illawarra and South Coast areas.

Police Minister Michael Gallacher said the Blue Mountains, Oberon, Shoalhaven and the Wingecarribee Shire had been declared natural disaster zones.

“Severe winds have covered much of these regions and this has caused significant damage to these communities,” Mr Gallacher said in a statement on Thursday.

“Today’s natural disaster declarations trigger a range of assistance measures for those people who have been directly impacted.”

The wind had damaged buildings, parks, reserves and critical infrastructure.

“This declaration will mean help is on hand for residents, primary producers, business owners and councils,” Mr Gallacher said.