Bega Valley Shire Council’s flags will fly at half-mast tomorrow to mark the second anniversary of the start of the Black Summer bushfires in the shire.
Acting CEO Anthony McMahon said the community could be proud of what had been achieved over the past two years, although there was still much to be done in the wake of the fires that claimed four lives and destroyed 467 homes and about 1000 sheds and out-buildings.
“Council continues to work alongside the community and our partners to do whatever we can to assist in recovery and build resilience for the future,” Mr McMahon said.
“Our Bushfire Recovery Support Service case managers provide individualised support to those impacted by the bushfires, covering a variety of areas, such as housing and homelessness issues, grant applications, environmental concerns, anxiety and trauma related to anniversaries, and the compounding effect of COVID-19 lockdowns.
“We focus on both current and longer-term recovery needs, and we continue to work closely with other agencies, philanthropic and charitable organisations to specifically address housing and sanitation issues,” he said.
“Recovery is an ongoing process—there’s no quick fix—and everyone is at a different stage in their personal recovery journey.
“For many, the anniversary of the Black Summer bushfires will bring back memories and emotional responses.
“It’s important we continue to look after each other by reaching out and checking that friends, neighbours and loved ones are okay.”
Mr McMahon said the pandemic added another level of challenge to the recovery and rebuilding process.
“Over the last two years, 42 new dwellings have been completed and 50 are under construction,” he said.
“COVID-19 lockdowns created a spike in development applications to council at a time when more people were preparing to rebuild after losing homes during the bushfires.
“Bushfire-affected people remained our priority, as we work to assess record levels of development activity across the shire.”
Mr McMahon said a key priority was securing more donations to the Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund so it could continue to support bushfire impacted residents.
“So far, more than $600,000 has been distributed back into the community. However, there are still many people who need support,” he said.
“We must continue to be there for them, but we need additional donations to do this.”
If you require mental health support, please call the 24-hour Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.
If you need assistance with urgent temporary housing, please phone Link2Home on 1800 152 152.
The Bega Valley Bushfire Recovery Support Service will reopen on Tuesday, January 4.
If you require bushfire recovery support during the holiday shutdown period, please call 6499 2345, leave a message and a case worker will be in touch.
You can donate to the Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund via bank deposit online or your local bank branch.
Account Name: SJA Disaster Relief Fund
BSB: 633 000
Account Number: 171 166 317
Image: 2EC News