The 2-page handout

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A fast-growing weed is causing havoc in a small Australian town. It almost resembles a scene from a horror movie. The weed is called "hairy panic". It is clogging up homes, farmyards and other buildings in the small Australian town of Wangaratta in the state of Victoria. Hairy panic is a grass that is found in every Australian state. It gets its name from the long hairs along the edges of grass stalks. The dead grass accumulates in large bundles, which are blown across the land by the wind. It has become a real nuisance in Wangaratta because of the large quantity of weed that is collecting in the town. It has reached roof level in some areas. Residents cannot see or reach their garages because of the piles of weed.

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Many of the residents have left the town until authorities remove the weed. They are fed up with having to spend several hours a day clearing the piles of dead grass from their driveways and gardens. For some residents, it is a battle to fight through the wall of weeds to get into their home. Local resident Pam Twitchett told Australia's ABC news agency that the weed was physically and mentally draining. Another resident, Jason Perna, spoke about the extent of the problem. He said: "It makes it difficult to get the car out in the morning - if you can find it." He also put the problem into context, saying: "It's a first-world problem. We don't put it on the scale of any of the famine or poverty going on in the world."



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