January 17, 2020
Over recent weeks fire has impacted most of the Far South Coast of NSW. Many areas have been directly impacted and suffered tragic loss. Other areas have been impacted by smoke and the anxiety associated with the protracted period of heightened risk.
These fires are still not under control, but we are starting to see an easing in conditions and an opportunity to get back on the front foot and implement our containment strategies. How long this will last is not known as this stage.
It is also important that our communities take advantage of the situation and use the milder conditions to develop strategies for coping with the environment we find ourselves in.
The key to this is fine tuning your Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you want some guidance on this there is a wealth of information at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/bfsp
Perhaps the key point here is an understanding of trigger points, and how setting trigger points can help you make the right decision at the right time without the constant anxiety associated with indecision.
Trigger points will vary with circumstances, but the key points to understand are how the Fire Danger Rating for a given day, and the alert level for a fire can inform your decision making.
On days of deteriorating conditions you may be again asked to relocate to safety, and this might happen several times over the course of these fires. In the lead to these “bad weather day” you should review your triggers and enact your bush fire survival plan.
Please continue to keep yourselves informed by checking reliable sources, but also take the opportunity to get some respite from the constant focus on the fires.
Reach out for support when you need it and continue to be kind to each other. We will get through this together.
RFS Superintendent John Cullen today provided an overview of the Border, Werr Berri and Badja/Mumbulla Fires, you can watch and listen here -
Work continues to reopen the Princes Highway into Victoria. The road is currently closed at Wonboyn Road. You can only travel as far at Wonboyn Road.
At this stage the road will remain closed well into next week. Getting it open again is a priority matched only by the size of the task to clear the road and make it safe again.
A number of agencies are pushing hard including Defence.
BlazeAid is a volunteer organisation that works with communities in rural Australia to help them rebuild after natural disasters. BlazeAid representatives are in the process of setting up a base at Cobargo Showground to help local farmers and property owners rebuild fences and more. You can contact Dean or Andy from BlazeAid about your needs or to volunteer. Drop into the Showground, phone 0408 080 932 (Dean) or 0459 135 784 (Andy) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Because fires within our water catchments are still burning and rainfall is forecast it’s inevitable that ash, charcoal, sediment, leaf litter, pathogens and vegetation debris from both the Brogo Dam catchment and Brogo Swamp creek catchment will wash towards the Brogo Dam pump station, with the potential to affect water quality.
We’re monitoring the situation closely and regularly and planning across a number of possible scenarios. Council is investigating water restrictions for the Brogo-Bermagui water supply system in line with its drought management plan.
A full report is being prepared for Councillors to consider in February.
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. Water testing continues daily.
Over $50,000 has been donated to the fund since New Years Eve.
Council and the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast are partners in administering the fund.
A meeting was held this week to further discuss the governance and distribution. More to come.
The fund is ongoing and always open for donations:
All financial donations will be gratefully received.
We continue to be blown away by the level of support coming from across the country for those impacted by the ongoing bushfire emergency - it is just incredible!!!
However, we have now reached a point where that the sheer volume of donated goods is becoming a problem.
The stockpiles are growing rapidly which is presenting new challenges for recovery staff.
The best way people can contribute is to support the Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.
The flames of the Badja Forest Fire and Border Fire have destroyed the Wandella and Kiah Halls – critical community places.
Options for temporary halls are currently being investigated by Defence and Bega Valley Shire Council.
Members of Council’s environment team met this week with concerned oyster farmers at Wonboyn Lake.
Bushfire has placed further pressure on this already drought stressed ecosystem and community.
An action plan was developed aimed at managing lake health including erosion and run off control, complimenting the work and understanding of the local community to date.
A number of key economic drivers in the local economy have been impacted by the bushfires, the forestry industry and the jobs and families it supports is one of them.
Cr Robyn Bain was part of a meeting this week that looked at the impact and possible recovery efforts.
Watch and hear more -
Council has recently had rates notices distributed which had commenced prior to the past fortnights 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 aware they have overdue rates and that have 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. More to come.
The NSW Government has today confirmed its coordination arrangements for the the clean-up of NSW residences and businesses impacted by the NSW Bushfires.
This includes both insured and uninsured properties.
Public Works Advisory in consultation with property owners, is leading the clean-up effort with insurers, Council and contractors, to ensure that properties are efficiently and safely cleared.
Testing will be carried out on all properties to ensure communities already impacted by fire are not exposed to contamination, and workers are not exposed to any hazardous materials. Work will begin once firegrounds are declared safe by the Rural Fire Service.
The cost of clearing properties will not be deducted from the funds available under insurance policies.
For owners of business/commercial premises, the government is working through the eligibility criteria and will contact you when the specifics are finalised. If you are insured, you should speak with their insurer.
You can contact the Recovery Centre on 6499 2345 or email email@example.com
Home base is the Bega Civic Centre, which is open Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm and weekends from 10am – 4pm, drop in.
A range of services are available for you to meet with face to face, helping one step at a time. A kids space with supervision is also available.
Accessing the mobile service is another option, especially for those living in our more remote areas.
Mobile Recovery Service Timetable:
Council continues to receive reports of unapproved clearing on public land, placing Aboriginal cultural sites and the natural environment at risk.
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 with culture 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.
Bega Valley Shire Council is adding to our online recovery resources daily. Start exploring your needs at - www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/recovery_support
Our next Bega Valley Bushfire Recovery Bulletin will be posted on Monday, January 20.