Inquiry hears bushfire map failures cause continuing grief

ABC News reported last week on the battle that South Coast resident Tod Adam’s had after her home was damaged in the fires but because the Fires Near me app had incorrectly shown the path of the fire, and as a result she had difficulty claiming bushfire relief.

Average 10 day turnaround on bushfire rebuild approvals

The Manning River Times is reporting the Mid North Coast Council is turning round DAs for houses lost in the fires in an average of 10 days.

NSW Bushfires: South Coast land values drop temporarily, but gains likely to follow new home construction

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that land values in pockets of the South Coast could fall up to 30 per cent following last summer’s bushfire crisis before rising again, a report says.

NSW Valuer General, Dr David Parker, has released a study on the impact the recent devastating NSW bushfires are likely to have on land values after more than 1100 homes were lost across the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Shoalhaven local government areas during December, 2019, and January and February of 2020.

The report explains, while there will likely be an immediate drop on values because of the destruction of property, once they are rebuilt, property prices will bounce back and even increase in some areas.

TAFE offers free course on bushfire regeneration after fires

Te South Coast Register is reporting that NSW TAFE is offering a free online course to help communities rehabilitate scorched bushland.

Wollondilly Shire Council calls for better bushfire evacuation planning after gridlock during emergency

Ther ABC reports that Wollondilly Shire Mayor Matthew Deeth and the council are calling for better planning of evacuation routes and future development in bushfire-prone areas.

It’s an enduring memory for many who live on the south-western outskirts of Sydney.

As an out-of-control bushfire raged towards the towns of Balmoral, Buxton and Bargo on December 19, thousands of people tried to evacuate at once, causing a 15-kilometre traffic jam from Bargo to Picton.

  • One local said she spent an hour trying to go what would normally take 15-20 minutes
  • Wollondilly Shire Mayor Matthew Deeth says council had one hour to clear cars before fire hit
  • He is calling for a bypass of Picton and better planning and infrastructure in bushfire-prone areas

Alicia Hirst, who lives on Remembrance Drive in Tahmoor, where cars were “bumper-to-bumper”, said some ran out of petrol after being stuck on the road for over an hour.

“A lot of them had kids and animals in the car because they’d packed up their families and were leaving, but there was nowhere for them to go, so the anxiety and stress levels were through the roof,” she said.

Ms Hirst said it was “extremely” lucky there were no fatalities that day.

“It’s very very scary for our community. We are sitting ducks.”

Bega council given over $1million for bushfire-affected waterways

Bega District News reports that Bega Valley Shire Council will receive more than $1million from the NSW government to ease the impact of the summer bushfires on coastal waterways.

The funding, totalling $1,149,000, will be used for catchment stabilisation and estuarine ecological health protection works at Wonboyn Lake, Bega River, Nullica River, Towamba River, Fisheries Creek, Shadrachs Creek, Wallaga Lake, Murrah River, Cuttagee Lake and Bermagui River.

“The shire was significantly affected by the summer bushfires, burning around 4000 square kilometres of land which poses significant threat to waterways due to increased runoff and erosion,” council’s coastal management officer Rachel Duczynski said.

“There has been a substantial loss of ecosystems, with damage to forested areas, riparian corridors and wetlands and flow-on effects to terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.

“With this funding, we will be able to protect the local environment by reducing inputs into the estuary, maintaining water quality and restoring habitat leading to long-term sustainability of the estuaries.

“This in turn will benefit our aquaculture, tourism and recreational industries.”

South West Slopes RFS receives commendation for bravery and service

Thte Young Witness reports that the Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated the South West Slopes Zone Senior Management Team in Harden on Wednesday on receiving a NSW RFS Internal Bravery and Service Award.

The unit were recognised with a Commissioner’s Certificate of Commendation for the work of the Senior Management Team over many years.

Ms Cooke said the award was well-deserved by the unit. “For many years the South West Slopes Zone Senior Management has undertaken the work of the RFS with incredible bravery and professionalism,” Ms Cooke said.

“Their skill and selflessness deserves to be celebrated and recognised. Congratulations on this well-earned accolade.”

Residents on the New South Wales south coast have rejected a finding from a Rural Fire Service investigation into the cause of deadly fire that destroyed 89 homes at Lake Conjola on New Year’s Eve

The ABC reports that the report was delivered to residents during a two-hour online meeting on Thursday night, organised to respond to community concern that a poorly managed back-burn resulted in the town being overrun by the blaze.

But the internal investigator appointed by RFS, Matthew O’Donnell said the blaze was caused by spotting from the Currowan fire.

“The impact on Conjola Park was likely to have originated from a spot over on the power line easement from Golden Flats Lane,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“That, based on the analysis of the triple zero calls, the interviews of crews in the field, the review of the mapping and the intelligence that we have, is the most likely origin.”

Laurie Andrew, John Butler and Michael Campbell were killed in the Currowan fire on New Year’s Eve.

Georges River National Park hazard reduction burn 7 May

The Mirage reports that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in conjunction with FRNSW and NSW RFS is planning a hazard reduction burn for the Georges River National Park at Beauty Point – Padstow Heights from tomorrow Friday 8 May.

Bushfire clean-up works across the state, including those that were to take place on Cobargo’s main street, have paused for the next two days

Thge Bega District News reports that a spokesperson for Laing O’Rourke, the lead contractor for the clean-up operations, said the company had announced a proactive safety reset process with all subcontractors, pausing clean-up works for two days across NSW after two safety incidents that occurred on worksites this week.

Bushfire relief EFTPOS cards welcomed by fire victims, businesses during coronavirus

The ABC reports that over $340,000 raised by celebrity bushfire relief concert Fire Aid 2020 is being pre-loaded onto EFTPOS cards linked to Southern Highlands businesses, tackling two disasters with one innovative idea.

The proceeds from the bushfire relief concert led by music legends John Waters and Leo Sayer is not only helping bushfire victims repair their lives, but stimulating the economy at a time when it is needed most. About 40 EFTPOS cards with $2,000 of credit have already been distributed to families who lost their homes in the summer bushfires in the Southern Highlands, with another 30 cards ready to go. “It doesn’t rebuild any houses, but what we’re doing is community-based,” concert organiser John Waters said.

Time to rebuild: $1.6 million in bushfire recovery funds for Hastings

The Macquarie Port News reports that a $1.6 million funding package has been distributed to the Port Macquarie-Hastings community to assist with the recovery and repair of infrastructure following one of the worst bushfire seasons in decades.

The funding will be spread across the local government area as a part of the rebuild following Black Summer, while ensuring the community and its assets are protected in the event of future fires.

The State Government has provided $250,000 through its Bushfire Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Fund for events or initiatives to support local business and industry recovery, and events or initiatives to support community recovery and wellbeing.

The Federal Government’s Commonwealth Bushfire Disaster Recovery Fund will inject support into projects and activities that council deems essential for the recovery and renewal of its community.

Bushfire inquiry listens to residents: ‘The more prepared we are the safer we are’

The BegaDistrict News reports that the state’s independent inquiry into the unprecedented Black Summer bushfire emergency has heard from residents and property owners, many of whom highlighted the issue of climate change and increased fire risks.

We must not forget bushfire damaged regions: Governor-General

News reported that Governor-General David Hurley has urged Australians not to forget about the bushfire-ravaged regions which have not been able to heal due to sweeping coronavirus restrictions. In an exclusive interview with Sky News presenter Annelise Nielsen, the Governor-General revealed he would visit these communities when restrictions eased. “I think everyone has a sense that these communities have had a double-whammy,” he said. “Where they took the savage blow from the fires, they’ve been looking to recover which they haven’t been able to do because of the pandemic. There’s been a variety of responses. But on the whole, I think how the communities stuck together during the fires that’s a great strength.” 

Commonwealth ignores ‘legally binding’ role in bushfire nature protection

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that experts warn the Morrison government is not using its legal powers to protect wildlife from devastating bushfires, which killed billions of animals in the summer.

Under international law the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining the biodiversity of World Heritage Areas. Under federal law, it’s also responsible for protecting threatened species listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Act. But experts say the Commonwealth is yet to fulfil its responsibilities.

David Pope’s bushfires prints: cartoonist adds two new images to series

Inspired by their “essential beauty”, Canberra Times cartoonist David Pope has created two new images to support bushfire affected communities.

The new drawings, depicting Rosedale and Batlow, are the latest additions to the “South Coast Is Calling” series.

The series, which has featured in a major advertising campaign across ACM mastheads to support regional tourism and recovery, has also so far raised $45,000 directly for south coast recovery efforts.

Pope’s images are inspired by vintage travel posters, and have previously depicted towns such as Batemans Bay, Narooma, Mogo and Nelligen.

Mogo Zoo’s wildlife hospital to rise from the summer’s bushfires

About Regional reports that after facing the prospect of not having enough money to cover the costs of feeding its animals, Mogo Wildlife Park is building a new wildlife hospital with funds donated by investors and supporters.

Following the past summer’s bushfires that surrounded the iconic zoo, located south of Batemans Bay, the wildlife sanctuary has been overwhelmed by offers of support and donations from around the world. The zoo’s collection of endangered species and exotic animals came under direct threat during the bushfires and a rescue mission by staff saved all of its 200 animals.

The zoo is in the process of building a wildlife hospital that will help rehabilitate displaced and injured animals, and revive natural habitats following the devastating bushfires.

Atlas Advisors Australia, a funds manager and investment advisory business, raised $30,000 which went towards the Mogo Wildlife Park via the World Wildlife Fund Australia’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund.

Back Creek Hazard Reduction Burn in Kosciuszko National Park

Mirage reports that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in conjunction with Rural Fire Service (RFS) is conducting a hazard reduction burn at Back Creek Monday 11 May.

$650 million bushfire plan to rebuild communities

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that local councils and communities will be offered $650 million in federal cash to rebuild after the summer bushfires in a new program that follows months of argument over the wait for assistance.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will promise the funding as a way to support local jobs with projects that could include construction, events, landscape and water development, and replacing produce and stock.

The commitment is the last major element of the $2 billion bushfire recovery fund announced at the height of the bushfire crisis in January, with the latest cash going to 30 communities that suffered the worst of the damage.

At least six of the communities are in or near the key seat of Eden-Monaro in southern NSW, where the government is trying to win a looming byelection despite a chaotic Coalition fight over the choice of candidate.

The drought-hit, bushfire-hit pub at Willawarrin … with kindness on tap

The Canberra Times reports that the town of Willawarrin on the NSW Mid-North Coast has seen it all but the local hotel continues to put their community before themselves.

In November, bushfires tore through the town and Kempsey area, destroying properties, homes and buildings.

“22 homes were lost in the general Willawarrin area according to the local brigade captain,” Kempsey RFS Superintendent Lachlann Ison said.

At its peak, the fire was 200 metres away from the Willawarrin Hall which then, once safe, served as a refuge for those affected residents.

Local volunteer Kathryn Batchelor says Willawarrin Hotel publicans Gordon and Karen Anderson deserve all the praise they get after their tireless efforts in supporting the community during the bushfires.

Phone tower upgrades and satellite trucks to be rolled out for future bushfires

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that mobile phone towers will be reinforced and internet satellite trucks deployed under a bushfire resilience package designed to prepare Australia’s telecommunications networks for increasingly severe disasters.

The federal government has announced the four-pronged, $37 million strategy after the unprecedented bushfire season exposed vulnerabilities in phone and internet networks. The crisis knocked out more than 1000 phone towers and other facilities across south-east Australia.

Under the resilience package, the government will put $18 million towards strengthening mobile phone base stations to deal with loss of mains power, which was the main cause of outages.

A total of $10 million will come from the existing mobile black spot program for regional areas and upgrades will include longer-lasting backup power such as batteries and generators.

News Roundup May 12
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