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Rain brings respite as communities re-gather – and boil their drinking water

Genevieve Jacobs 6 January 2020
Australian flag

This lone Australian flag was found by a fireman working on the Charleys Forest fire. Photo: Facebook.

Along the South Coast, residents are breathing again – if they can through the smoke – as cool weather and even rain offer respite from the weekend’s horrific conditions.

Two people are still missing after Saturday’s fires – one south of Bombala and another to the west of Bodalla. Police and emergency services are attempting to locate the two people.

Wet weather in some areas had given exhausted volunteers time to rest and recuperate, although fire is still active at advice levels across the region as a whole and RFS firefighting efforts continue. The next high fire risk day is on Friday.

In some areas, it’s also a time to boil water and continue to live without electricity. Reservoirs in southern Eurobodalla are being filled straight from the river without treatment in order to meet urgent demand so residents in Moruya and as far south as Tilba must boil their drinking water.

Water remains a pressure point along the coast. Residents everywhere are urged not to water down lawns and houses unless you see embers. Please be aware that every drop matters for residential supply and emergency purposes.

Power is back on from North Moruya and all areas south to Tilba. However, Batemans Bay and the coastal areas south to Broulee might be without power for up to one week.

Food and fuel trucks are also on their way through to the coast where possible, sometimes utilising police escorts to ravel through fire-affected areas.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council says there is significant electricity infrastructure damage in the north of the shire, which crews can’t access safely yet. Additional Essential Energy crews are expected to arrive tomorrow to assist with repairs once NSW RFS gives safety clearance.

Old Mogo Town

Remains of Old Mogo Town. Photo: Facebook/Molly Donohue-Teasdale.

In the Eurobodalla, the RFS advises that all fires impacting are at advice level and there are no concerns for properties at this time. People are safe to return to their homes except for those living in the Deua, Pollwombra and Larry’s Mountain Road areas west of Moruya, where NSW RFS continues to monitor fire activity.

Further south, residents are also safe to return to Bega, Tathra, Merimbula, Pambula and Eden. However, if you sought refuge in town from other areas, you’ll need to wait until emergency authorities say it’s safe.

The Princes Highway remains closed between Mogo and Moruya but open to Merimbula further south. The Princes Highway is closed south of Eden at Nethercote Road. The Snowy Mountains Highway is open. On all roads, please exercise extreme caution and obey any directions. Do not cross roadblocks, be aware of debris and drive to conditions at all times.

The crisis also means that rubbish is piling up in many areas. In the Eurobodalla, residents should put all three bins out and wait for the kerbside collection.

It will start tomorrow and not necessarily follow the usual schedule for the next few days. Council says that trucks will collect as much as they can, when they can and more trucks will arrive to help when the highway opens. Surf Beach tip is closed due to fire impacts. Moruya Transfer Station will be open tomorrow, Monday 6 January, and Brou tip is open from Tuesday 7 January.

There is also an important warning not to sift through fire-damaged material until you are certain that it is free of asbestos. Older buildings along the coast may well have had asbestos used in building materials, so please wait until there’s been an official inspection.

Licensed contractors from NSW Public Works Authority are progressively working through fire-affected areas, starting today, January 6.

While fire activity is easing across the firegrounds along the coast and inland, there are still multiple fires burning at advice level. The Currowan fire continues to burn between west of Kangaroo Valley in the north, Braidwood in the west, and Batemans Bay in the south.

The Charleys Forest fire has grown along the fires western flank to the east of Braidwood; the Clyde Mountain fire has grown along the fire’s southern flank around Batemans Bay and further north, the Morton fire has grown along the fire’s northern flank, into the Southern Highlands.

In the Bega Valley, there are still active fires burning. The Badja Forest Rd Countegany fire is at advice level around Big Belimba Creek and Bumbo Creek, in the Dampier State Forest, to the west of Nerrigundah and Bodalla and the Badja Forest Road, Countegany area.

Residents in Dignams Creek, Bermagui, Regatta Point, Wallaga Lake and Wallaga Lake Heights should all continue to
monitor conditions via the NSW RFS website, Fires Near Me App and local media.

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on The RiotACT.

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