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Huge boost for rebuilding support

Garry Cooper, Bega Valley Shire Council Environmental Health and Building Surveyor.

Photograph: The recent appointment of Garry Cooper as an Environmental Health and Building Surveyor has significantly increased Council’s ability and capacity to more effectively assist bushfire impacted property owners through the recovery and rebuilding process.

11 June 2020

Bega Valley Shire Council’s ability and capacity to more effectively assist bushfire impacted property owners through the recovery and rebuilding process has received a huge boost through the recent appointment of Garry Cooper as an Environmental Health and Building Surveyor.

Well-known and highly regarded in the local community, Garry comes to Council directly from the Far South Coast Rural Fire Service (RFS), where he spent the past decade working in bushfire environmental planning, fire mitigation, and emergency management, response and coordination.

Additionally, Garry has a background in building and has been a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years, bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to this new role.

Following the Tathra and District and Yankees Gap fires, the RFS assisted property owners by providing Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings for those damaged and destroyed, however the sheer magnitude and impact of the Black Summer fires across the state meant this hasn’t been possible for these events.

Council was therefore looking for a solution and thanks to Federal and NSW Government support through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement, we are very fortunate to have secured Garry to undertake this vital work.

Speaking as part of our Facebook Conversations Series (https://www.facebook.com/begavalleyshirecouncil/) Garry said he was particularly keen to be able to share his knowledge and experience and help people navigate the initial stages of the rebuilding process.

“The BAL ratings exist to make sure everyone is as safe as possible in their own home and I am very keen to ensure those impacted by the fires are able to build back better in the most efficient and economically sustainable way,” Garry said.

“It has been fantastic to be out on the ground in places like Cobargo and Kiah over the past few weeks where there are people still really hurting and be able to have the conversation, share my experiences and give them a shoulder to lean on.

“We are starting to find many of those impacted are starting to reach out and look for that little bit of extra help and it’s great to be able to talk, take some of the burden they are feeling away and enable them to see a clear path forward.” 

Council’s Director Community, Environment and Planning, Alice Howe, said Garry’s expertise and experience has and will greatly improve the level of service we are able to provide.

“We are receiving a large number of enquiries and we are committed to doing everything we can to assist those who have lost so much.

“Our teams are ready, willing and able and we strongly encourage anyone who needs clarification as they work through the rebuilding process to get in touch,” Dr Howe said.

To view the full conversation with Garry and Dr Howe, visit https://www.facebook.com/begavalleyshirecouncil/videos/263949284948294/

For more information on BAL ratings head to https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area/building-after-bush-fire/your-level-of-risk

For assistance with the redevelopment process, contact Council’s Development Hub developmenthub@begavalley.nsw.gov.au or 6499 2209.

END

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