20 July 2020

Housing pods help with bushfire recovery at Nerriga

| Michael Weaver
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The keys to a recovery pod being handed over to a member of the Nerriga community whose home was destroyed by bushfire.

The key to a recovery pod is handed over to a member of the Nerriga community whose home was destroyed by the past summer’s bushfires. Photo: Supplied.

The township of Nerriga, northeast of Braidwood, was one of the hardest hit areas when the Currowan bushfire merged with the Tianjara bushfire at the end of December 2019. The town’s pub is yet to reopen.

Dozens of properties were destroyed, but last week, life for a couple of residents became a bit easier when two recovery pods arrived in town.

The temporary accommodation allows people impacted by the past summer’s bushfires to stay safely on their properties, close to loved ones, pets and livestock, while they begin the process of rebuilding.

NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Disaster Recovery and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, said up to 200 accommodation pods are being rolled out across the state thanks to a partnership between the NSW Government and the Minderoo Foundation, a modern philanthropic organisation founded by the chair of Fortescue Metals Group, Andrew Forrest, and his wife, Nicola, in Western Australia.

“Nerriga, a small village between Braidwood and Nowra, was significantly impacted by bushfires during summer,” said Mr Barilaro. “As a result, the damage was widespread with dozens of buildings and homes lost.

“Nerriga is a very close-knit community and incredibly resilient, however the fires and the devastation they caused knocked this region around.

“It is times like this when those hit the hardest need support. That is why these recovery pods are so important. They allow families and individuals impacted by the fires to stay safely and securely on their own property, close to those who love them.”

Resident being handed keys to recovery pod at Nerriga.

Another of the bushfire recovery pods is handed over at Nerriga. Photo: Supplied.

The first recovery pod was delivered to a family in Nambucca Heads, on the NSW Mid North Coast, back in May 2019.

The pods allow individuals and families to stay in a temporary structure for up to two years, in line with recent amendments to planning regulations.

The new, larger pods are fully self-contained and come equipped with a 2100-litre water tank. The pod can operate on the included 5kVA generator or use a 15-amp external plug-and-play mains connection.

Internally, they have a toilet, shower and a small open kitchen with a two-burner stove, 230-litre fridge and a washing machine. A double bed in a separate room and two sets of bunks configured to sleep six, with clever storage options and a breakfast/study bar is also included.

In addition, the pods come equipped with two rectangular tables and six chairs suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

The recovery pod was developed to provide a practical base camp for work and temporary accommodation while bushfire-affected families and individuals work towards long-term rebuilding.

Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger said he is pleased to be able to join with the NSW Government to deliver this key recovery program to fire-affected communities.

“We supplied and installed recovery pods on Kangaroo Island to provide immediate support to impacted residents, but also as a proof-of-concept for wider deployment,” he said.

“We are pleased with their initial success and look forward to seeing this significant rollout across NSW.”

More than $2.3 billion has been committed to bushfire recovery by the NSW Government, with more than 3200 destroyed properties cleared at no cost to property owners.

Bushfire recovery funding from the government has been distributed through grants, temporary accommodation, clean-up and industry support.

Mr Barilaro said support from the NSW Government does not have an end date and anyone who needs assistance should contact Service NSW on 13 77 88.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is that someone might fall through the cracks when it comes to bushfire recovery,” said Mr Barilaro.< “The NSW Government has committed $8.5 million to Operation Outreach, a program aimed at ensuring everyone who needs support gets it. “Resilience NSW, Service NSW, local councils, charities and locally embedded recovery services are out there proactively seeking bushfire-impacted families and individuals to ensure they are utilising the raft of support available.”

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