3 January 2020

Communities waiting, watching and preparing

| Michael Weaver
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A horse at Tomakin

A horse at Tomakin on 31 December. Photo: Cath Blythe.

As communities in the NSW South-East wait and watch for what the next two days will bring, here is our update of the current information in the ACT and surrounds.

A state of alert has been issued in the ACT.

There are no fires burning in the ACT as at 1:00 pm, 3 January 2020.

The state of alert recognises that in addition to the South Coast, there are active fires burning near Tumut and in the Kosciusko National Park.

There is already a state of emergency in NSW, which means powers have been transferred from the NSW Government to the Rural Fire Service Commissioner.

If a state of emergency is declared in Canberra, the ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner, Georgeina Whelan, will control the emergency.

The Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Braidwood and Yass showgrounds are available for people travelling from fire-affected areas requiring transit accommodation. You don’t need a booking although if you have a caravan and animals, you are asked to phone the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council on 1300 735 025.

Around 30 groups, from families in cars to caravans, large vehicles with horse floats, made use of the Queanbeyan Showground last night (2 January). This facility is available for those in need – no bookings are required and it is available free of charge.

There is also a free dinner at the Queanbeyan Showground tonight at 6:00 pm.

Motels in Canberra and Queanbeyan, carparks around Lake Burley Griffin and the welcoming homes of strangers are being used by evacuees. A bushfire emergency accommodation in Canberra Facebook group has been set up by concerned Canberrans offering accommodation.

In the ACT, an evacuation centre has been established at Dickson College (Philip Avenue, Dickson). There are respite care and basic supplies available for fire evacuees, and Anglicare is on-site for counselling and support.

There are also driver reviver stops and emergency services. Police have asked motorists to take care on the southern approaches to Canberra. From yesterday afternoon onwards, there were some heavy traffic conditions and ACT police have been out helping.

For residents in the Eurobodalla Shire, if you plan to leave, or you are not prepared to the highest levels, leaving early is your safest option. If you are planning to move locations, go to larger town centres and be there by nightfall while the roads are open.

Pack what you need to take: medications, prescriptions, important documents, precious items, clothing and toiletries for a few days. There is an evacuation centre located at Narooma Leisure Centre, Moruya basketball stadium (at the showground) and Hanging Rock Function Centre in Batemans Bay.

If you are in Tuross, the message is to stay in place. RFS strike teams will be there to defend. The village is well set up with the Club and shopping area providing protection.

In the Bega Valley Shire, if you have a plan that involves moving livestock, there are large animal-safe spaces at Bombala Saleyards, Cooma Saleyards, Cooma Showground or Bega Saleyards that can include companion animals. People need to bring their own feed and water buckets.


The village of Cobargo as it stands today, 3 January. Photo: BVSC Facebook.

We’ve seen tragic stories about animal welfare so far. If you have been affected by the fire and need fodder and water for emergency animal welfare in the Bega Valley, call 1800 814 647 to request assistance with services including emergency fodder and stock water, animal assessments and veterinary services. Fodder distribution points are currently being set up on the Far South Coast. The Hotline is open every day if you require assistance.

In Cobargo, drinking water only is available from a water truck at the Cobargo Showground. Please bring your own container. At Bemboka, potable water, for drinking purposes only, is available at the Bemboka fire shed (BYO container). Tap water at Bemboka should only be used for firefighting as there is ash in the town’s water supply.

While all fires are at advice level as of 9:00 am today (3 January), the fears for Saturday centre on villages to the south of Eden. If you are in Kiah, Wonboiyn or Boyd Town, you should be enacting your fire plans now. The safest option is to leave.

Regarding road closures, going north in the Eurobodalla, the Princes Highway is open from Milton. Traffic is very heavy. Obey instructions and drive to conditions.

Going south, the Princes Highway is still closed between Batemans Bay and Moruya, but you can get around via George Bass Drive and to Bega and over Brown Mountain. Follow detour signs. Power has returned and fuel is available; however, taking cash is your safest option as there are reports of frustration at petrol stations when EFTPOS is unavailable.

Once you have established where you will be, please register online with Register.Find.Reunite – www.register.redcross.org.au.

The Bureau of Meteorology this morning said they are expecting a weather pattern that closely mirrors New Year’s Eve with high temperatures, gusty winds and then a vigorous cold front. The combination of a cold front with very hot air ahead of it creates highly unpredictable, unstable and dangerous weather patterns.

And please, be proactive and aware of your own situation. Do not wait for someone to tell you what to do. Check the RFS website and fires near me, the Bega Valley Council and Eurobodalla Shire Council Facebook pages.

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