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Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Bushfire Recovery Bulletin #03

January 15, 2020

This update will be published daily to Council’s website and Facebook page at 5pm to provide the community with an update on where the recovery effort is at.

You will also find channels to ask questions and get information.

As we move forward together information is key, and this will be one way of staying in touch during the weeks ahead.

Today’s snapshot:

Fire Update

All of our fires remain at ADVICE status this afternoon.

The Werri Berri Fire is now more than 20,000 hectares in size and is burning to the north of Bemboka and west of Brogo.

It has joined with the Badja Forest Fire in the north east, however conditions are easing across the fireground.

The Badja Forest Fire that is more than 240,000 in size is still actively burning near Biamanga/Mumbulla. RFS crews are being supported by heavy plant and machinery to continue to strengthen containment lines.

The Border Fire has now reached 159,000 hectares in size and is still considered out of control.

Heavy water bombing aircraft were brought in yesterday to construct control lines in the Towamba/Burragate area – more at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2811958772195951&id=161152487276606

Weather predictions still indicate conditions are set to be favourable over the next week, with rainfall expected from Thursday onwards. The potential for sediment runoff into waterways is being monitored and planned for by Council and RFS.

Evacuation Centre Closed

The Bega Showground Evacuation Centre has formally closed as of 5.00pm today.

At the peak of the emergency there were 4684 people registered across our then seven centres, however in a pleasing development all those displaced have either been able to return home or be transferred into more formal housing arrangements.

Again, a huge thank you to all those who volunteered their time across the evacuation centres to make people as comfortable as possible.

Clean up information

The Office of Emergency Management have provided the following key points regarding the clean-up of damaged and destroyed properties.

If you are insured:

  • Talk to your insurance company as soon as possible about how to make a claim.
  • Take photos or video of damage to your property and possessions as evidence for your claim.
  • Your insurance company will manage the clean-up of your residence.

The Insurance Council of Australia can be contacted with any questions, complaints or concerns about insurance on 1800 734 621.

If you are uninsured:

  • Public Works Authority is available to manage the full clean-up and removal of bushfire debris from your residence and immediately adjacent outbuildings. The full cost of the clean-up will be met by the NSW Government. Public Works Advisory: 1800 885 539

More detailed information on the demolition and rebuilding process will be made available in the coming days.

ADF on the job

Our very welcome visitors from the ADF remain busy at work across the Shire - if you see them in your travels be sure to give them a big Bega Valley welcome!

Currently their key focus areas are clearing roads and dangerous trees, repairing roadside fencing and providing water support for the RFS crews out still battling the blazes.

There has been some misinformation spreading that the ADF are available to clean water tanks and refill them – THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

Bemboka tip update

There has also been some misinformation doing the rounds surrounding the situation with the Bemboka Tip.

Here are the facts:

  • The site was impacted by fire and a hygienist will be inspecting the site tomorrow for potential friable asbestos contamination.
  • The outcome of this inspection will provide direction on how we move forward with the site.
  • Friable asbestos is very hazardous and we are not sending our staff or contractors into the site until it has been deemed safe.
  • A skip bin has been set up at Colombo Park to assist those who don’t currently have a service, but we stress this is for household waste and not to be used for construction and demolition.

Recovery Services

On the back of Bega Valley Bushfire Recovery Centre opening in Bega, the mobile service has been launched and made its first visits to the north (Bemboka) and south (Wonboyn) today.

Tomorrow (Thursday, 16 January) it will be the first turns for Eden and Cobargo.

Full Timetable:

  • Quaama Hall - Tuesdays from 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Towamba Hall - Tuesdays from 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Bemboka Hall - Wednesdays from 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Wonboyn RFS Shed - Wednesdays from 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Cobargo Hall - Thursdays and Saturdays from 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Eden Log Cabin - Thursdays and Saturdays from 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Bermagui Community Centre - Fridays from 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Wyndham Hall - Fridays from 10.00am – 2.00pm

The intention of the mobile service is to make it easier for those living in our more remote areas to access the services available.

Initially, the recovery team will be on the road for 12 weeks depending on the needs of each community.

You can contact the Recovery Centre on 6499 2345 or email recovery@begavalley.nsw.gov.au

Home base is the Bega valley Commemorative Civic Centre, which is open Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm and weekends from 10am – 4pm.

A range of services are available for you to meet with face to face, helping one step at a time.

Save the children in town

Thanks to Save the Children Australia there is a dedicated space for children at the Recovery Centre where they can play and be supervised while you speak with Recovery Centre staff.

It is a terrific space that has added a great new dimension to the service being offered for those impacted by the fires.

Road Closures

These roads remain closed this afternoon:

Edrom Road, Eurack Road, Hazelnut Road, Head of Cuttagee Road, Jim McMahon Drive, Mumbulla Creek Road (local access only), Murrah River Forest Road, Nungatta Road, Pericoe Road, Shelley's Road, The Snake Track, Towamba Road, and Whittles Road.

More about water

A boil water notice remains in place for Bemboka, Quaama, Cobargo, Bermagui, Beauty Point, Fairhaven, Wallaga Lake, Wallaga Lake Heights, Wallaga Lake Koori Village and Akolele, due to a loss of power caused by fire and treatment issues that followed. 

All water for drinking, food preparation, the cleaning of teeth and ice-making needs to be boiled before use. Water can then be allowed to cool and stored in a clean container with a lid and refrigerated.

We understand the inconvenience caused by having to boil tap water and work is continuing in earnest to enable these to be lifted as soon as possible.

The Bemboka system water quality data has been improving since the Bemboka Water Treatment Plant (WTP) lost power and control due to the Werri Berri fire and its impact on infrastructure and river water quality on New Year’s Day.

Control to the Water Treatment Plant has almost fully been restored, in preparation for rainfall and a return of poor river water quality to treat. It is expected that the WTP will perform well under this scenario and produce quality drinking water. System mains flushing will also be completed over the coming week. All going well it is possible that the boil water notice will be lifted by as early as the end of next week.

While also progressing in a positive manner, the situation with the Brogo-Bermagui supply is likely to prove a little more challenging. We do absolutely need the forecast rain, however with a large area of the catchment burnt out there is a real likelihood that it could cause turbidity levels at the at the Brogo River pump station to increase.

A more detailed update on water across the Shire (including current storage levels) is being compiled and will be released soon.

Rates notices

Council has recently had rates notices distributed, which had commenced prior to the past fortnight’s fire events. We understand that receiving a bill right now adds hurt and pressure to many households.

Rates reminder notices have been put on hold and we encourage anyone that has overdue rates and been impacted by fire to contact Council.

When it comes to water meter readings, Council is now considering how best to manage the impacts of recent fire events on water usage.

Ways to help the community and Council handle the increased water use will be addressed at the January 29 meeting of Council.

Other direct assistance measures concerning Council fees and charges will also be discussed on the day.

Unapproved clearing

Unfortunately, Council continues to receive reports of unapproved clearing on public land.

We want to work with landholders and our communities in a more positive way to address any concerns they have. Our staff and the RFS always look to balance the needs of residents and the natural environment.

We have commenced planning for enhanced fire hazard reduction works and this will again be a priority area for us once the current fire situation has further stabilised.

Management of the 35km of Asset Protection Zones Council is responsible for is an ongoing year-round focus in collaboration with the RFS.

More information

Bega Valley Shire Council is adding to our online recovery resources daily. Start exploring your needs at - www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/Recovery_Support

Photograph: Australian Army Sapper Sean Newland of 5th Engineer Regiment cuts up remains of a fire-damaged tree that was threatening a road near Wonboyn Lake. (Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

Australian Army Sapper Sean Newland of 5th Engineer Regiment cuts up remains of a fire-damaged tree that was threatening a road near Wonboyn Lake. (Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

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