Recovery efforts are underway on the South Coast with the Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) announcing a Regional Recovery Council (RRC) to help revive local communities that have been devastated by the bushfires.
The RRC will bring key groups together so that the BVSC and neighbouring local government areas including the Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and Queanbeyan-Palerang Councils will be able to take a regional approach to restore infrastructure and supplies to local towns and communities.
BVSC’s General Manager and Deputy Chair of the group Leanne Barnes said the Council wants to be ready with information and services to support those people as needed.
“The state [government] will bring all key support agencies together to work with us to assess the 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.
The BVSC has also established an internal Recovery Action Committee (RAC) which met for the first time yesterday (7 January) and will focus on health and wellbeing, agriculture and livestock, business and tourism, infrastructure, waste and environment, and communications.
“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,” Ms Barnes said.
“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.”
Council staff are already working around the clock with other agencies to restore infrastructure, including water, sewerage, electricity and telecommunications. Supplies are also being delivered to towns and villages across the Shire.
Former NSW Police Deputy Commissioner and State Emergency Operations Controller Dick Adams has been chosen by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as the Recovery Coordinator for Southern NSW.
Mr Adams previously led the bushfire recovery efforts in Wyong, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens as a recovery coordinator in 2013 and will visit the Bega Valley next week.
However, Ms Barnes says the current focus still remains on the safety of residents.
“I urge everyone to focus on your safety and wellbeing and to take care of one another at this particularly challenging time,” Ms Barnes said.
“There will be dedicated pages for recovery information on the Council’s website and community meetings will be held across the Shire starting in the next one or two weeks.”
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.
Crisis support help is also available here:
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636