8 January 2020

South Coast residents warned conditions are set to worsen

| Michael Weaver
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Malua Bay Rural Fire Brigade

Smiling and sooty members of the Malua Bay Rural Fire Brigade. Photo: Malua Bay Rural Fire Brigade Facebook.

South Coast residents are once again being warned to prepare for the worst ahead of deteriorating fire conditions this Friday.

The news was delivered at a community meeting at the Moruya Golf Club today (8 January), addressed by the Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) Mayor Liz Innes, RFS Deputy Incident Controller Captain David Ormsby and ESC Local Emergency Management Officer Warren Sharpe.

Residents were told power could again be lost and roads closed.

“Residents of properties with a bush interface from Moruya to Narooma are being advised to prepare their properties as well as they can and move to the town centres of Batemans Bay, Moruya or Narooma. Tuross Country Club and shops are still safe zones. We are being asked to prepare for power to go down and roads to close again,” Mr Ormsby said.

He added that fires that have so far burned to the north and south of Moruya will join together and threaten the coast all the way from Moruya to Narooma on Friday or Saturday.

“The next opportunity for significant fire activity is Friday with westerly winds all day, followed by a southerly at midnight. The best case for Friday is a north-easterly wind opposing the westerly, but we have to be prepared for the worst.

“The outlook for Friday is an increase in fire behaviour very early on Friday morning. Anyone in rural and remote areas needs to be in a safe place by Thursday night. We do not want anyone in remote areas,” Mr Ormsby said.

Mr Sharpe also provided the latest update on property assessment in the Shire which is now 85 per cent complete.

A total of 416 homes have so far been destroyed in the Eurobodalla, including 70 facilities and 630 outbuildings.

A further 204 homes have been damaged, including 22 facilities and 191 outbuildings.

Pleading for patience, Mayor Liz Innes told the meeting of her sheer relief upon hearing that power had been restored to Batemans Bay and surrounds; however, she said there will continue to be testing days ahead.

“Our community is struggling and hurting and we all need to support each other in the days, weeks, months and years ahead,” Mayor Innes said.

“Our immediate focus is on the people who have lost everything.”

Mayor Innes said she has spent the last week at an evacuation centre in Batemans Bay where she met elderly residents being fed by people cooking a barbecue because there was no power.

“During the coming days, there will again be limited access to milk, ice, water and fuel. Please know that everyone we have out there is doing all they can to help.

“Make sure your homes are as prepared as they can be. The more you are prepared, the better. If you can help, please do.”

Mayor Innes said there is great information on how to prepare your house in an emergency on the RFS website.

Further south at Bega, power is back at Bermagui and surrounds. Fire crews have spent the last couple of days mopping up, blacking out edges and preparing new containment lines ahead of worsening conditions later this week.

Marty Webster from Far South Coast RFS said this Friday will be another challenging day.

“People should prepare for Friday in the same way that they prepared for last Saturday.

“We have had a practice run at this now. I’d encourage people to review how things played out for them on Saturday,” Mr Webster said.

“What are the things you could have done better? Are there things that you never want to do again?

“There are people who choose to stay and defend that are now saying they’d never do that again.

“That’s not the case for everyone, but please be aware you are exposing yourself to possibly significant trauma even if the fire doesn’t impact your property.”

Further information can be found on the Bega Valley Shire Council Facebook page.

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