7 January 2020 (edited 13 January 2020)
Bega Valley Shire Council has started planning for recovery to support individuals, families and businesses as they safely move back into their communities, despite the ongoing nature of the current bushfire disaster.
While Council continues to focus on the immediate safety, needs and comfort of the people directly affected by the Border Fire, the Werri Berri Fire, Badja Forest Road Fire and the Myrtle Mountain Road Fire, which are still burning in our Shire and across neighbouring local government areas, Council is also keen to be ready with information and services to support those people as needed.
In addition, Council staff have been working round the clock with other agencies to restore infrastructure – water, sewer, electricity, telecommunications – and supplies to towns and villages across the Shire.
General managers from eight affected councils teleconferenced with the Office of Emergency Management on Friday 3 January and the result is that a Regional Recovery Committee has been established covering Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Wingecarribee, Greater Hume and Queanbeyan-Palerang Councils.
Bega Valley Shire Council’s General Manager, Leanne Barnes is Deputy Chair of this group.
Ms Barnes says that a regional approach to recovery makes sense given that the bushfires have ravaged our shared landscape of the south east of New South Wales.
“The State will bring all key support agencies together to work with us to assess damage, determine people’s needs and start the next critical stages, including the transition from current evacuation centres to disaster welfare assistance, to best support communities across our whole Shire,” said Ms Barnes.
In the coming weeks, a name we will all become familiar with will be Mr Dick Adams.
Mr Adams is the Recovery Coordinator for Southern NSW, recently announced by NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian and the Acting Minister for Emergency Services, Anthony Roberts.
Mr Adams is a retired NSW Police Deputy Commissioner with 35 years of service. He is a former State Emergency Operations Controller and has extensive experience as a recovery coordinator having led the bushfire recovery efforts in Wyong, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens in 2013.
He will visit the Bega Valley next week.
Council has established an internal Recovery Action Committee, meeting for the first time today, focusing on health and wellbeing; agriculture and livestock; business and tourism; infrastructure; waste and environment; donations and disaster relief; communications and community engagement.
“There’ll be dedicated pages for recovery information on Council’s website and community meetings will be held across the Shire starting in the next one or two weeks,” Ms Barnes said.
Recovery information will be released regularly in a range of formats so that all members of the community can access it and information will be made available through known community hubs.
“We know that many people who have lost property will have limited communications, so we will continue to get information to you in as many ways as possible and we encourage people to get to community meetings to hear the latest developments, ask questions and to support each other.
“So we can deliver support services to those impacted, we will have to refocus business operations and Councillors will consider reports about this at the January meeting.
“In the meantime, I urge everyone to focus on your safety and wellbeing and to take care of one another at this particularly challenging time,” said Ms Barnes.