Eurobodalla Shire Council local emergency management officer Warren Sharpe has reassured residents that bushfire conditions and the region’s supporting infrastructure are significantly different from last year.
Mr Sharpe has provided guidance on emergency management in the shire and said despite different conditions, residents still need to prepare their properties for natural disasters.
“In 2019, we saw the driest conditions in recorded history, while in 2020 we’ve seen three floods and have La Niña in play,” he said.
“We’re more concerned with floods and storms in 2020, but urge the community to prepare their property for all disasters: fires, floods and storms.
Mr Sharpe said supporting infrastructure is now much more resilient after significant post-fire efforts by council and other agencies using the lessons learnt from the past summer.
“Telecommunications are more resilient with new power backup systems installed by Telstra, and the shire’s evacuation centres are being hardwired with backup power connections before Christmas,” he said.
“The power network is more robust with new poles, and Essential Energy has even delivered standalone power supplies in remote communities.
“We know we can still lose telecommunications, power and other services. Our focus has been to lobby agencies to make improvements so this occurs less often.
“We’re also keeping pressure on the Federal Government to help us secure our future water supply by providing their share of funding for the new water storage in the south of shire.
“We’re doing our bit, too, and by Christmas we expect to have built 14 new fire-resilient concrete bridges, replacing timber structures lost in the fires. These will also perform better in floods.
“Our highways and local roads are less susceptible to tree fall, with significant burnt and hazardous trees being removed. We may have more slips and washaways due to saturated ground conditions and heavy rain, and we ask our community to contact us if they see this anywhere on our road network.”
Mr Sharpe said it is pleasing to see businesses throughout the shire, including aged care facilities and petrol stations, taking steps to be more prepared for disasters. Some have added permanent backup power systems, and others have worked on their ‘stay-in-place’ plans.
“People are far more motivated to participate with the NSW Rural Fire Service and to prepare their property and survival plans, which remains most critical of all things that we can all do,” he said.
“People also seem more interested in working together and looking out for their elderly neighbours.”