‘Incredibly challenging’: Bushfire recovery a long haul
BUSHFIRE recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.
As firefighters continue battle more than 100 blazes across New South Wales, the new State Bushfire Recovery Co-ordinator Euan Ferguson is visiting communities and hearing first-hand from farmers, residents, small businesses, councils and individuals about what they need to get their lives back to normal.
Mr Ferguson's role includes liaising with numerous emergency services, local, state and federal government organisations and agencies to support local recovery activities and ensuring co-ordination and equity across affected areas,
Patience is the key to getting through this "incredibly challenging time," he said.
He said mental and social health also play a significant focus of recovery and urged people to take extra care of themselves.
"We have to take this one step at a time," he said.
"I understood that many people have been dealing with fire on the landscape since February; it's quite stressful for people to still be seeing smoke and fire on the hills."
He said the NSW disaster recovery team is co-ordinating with other agencies to help the community with what they need to recover, from organising insurance agencies to mental health support.
Mr Ferguson said their first priority is ensuring people have accommodation and getting damage assessment completed.
And he said his team are listening carefully as they attend community and town hall meetings, visit properties and meet people in the fire-affected areas.
"Communications is a constant theme I am hearing about," he said.
"People in the bush want better mobile telephone coverage."
He said the recovery efforts are staged and once people have accommodation, then access, bridges, telecommunications and power will be the initial focus, followed by feed, water and fences.
With more than 560 dwellings and numerous outbuildings destroyed, Mr Ferguson said he's been hearing from farmers whose homes have been destroyed and now need temporary housing on their properties to care for their livestock.
"The bushfires have been a huge impact on primary producers from sheep to cattle farmers and beekeepers," he said.
"I have no doubt many will have to face some tough decisions regarding their herd stock levels".
Anyone impacted by the fires and requiring emergency support, contact the Public Information Enquiry Centre on 1800 222 228.
Information about recovery services can be found at: www.emergency.nsw.gov.au