NSW RFS Far South Coast report that yesterday (Friday 10 January) was a matter of planning for the worst and hoping for the best in the Eurobodalla.
Strong westerlies inland were tempered by the easterly coastal influence and moderated the fires, with no significant progression to the east. Fire behaviour did increase in the western end of the Deua Valley.
The southerly moved through around 9.30pm and the strong gusty winds saw an increase in Triple Zero calls overnight for the re-ignition of trees and logs in burnt areas.
RFS Far South Coast Area Coordinator Kelwyn White says don’t panic if you notice this, but do report to Triple Zero.
“As the area is already burnt, the risk of fire spreading is significantly reduced, and we’ll prioritise our response based on fire activity,” she said.
Kelwyn added that today’s more favourable conditions will see RFS crews mopping up and patrolling, and preparing for tactical backburns in the coming days.
Fire impacted residents
Evacuation centres remain open 24/7 at:
· Batemans Bay evacuation centre Hanging Rock Function Centre, Hanging Rock Place
· Moruya evacuation centre Moruya Basketball stadium, in the showgrounds, Albert Street
· Narooma evacuation centre Leisure Centre, Bluewater Drive
Returning to Moruya west
Residents of Deua, Pollwombra and Larry’s Mountain Road areas west of Moruya may not return home for now while NSW RFS continues to monitor fire activity in that area.
NEW Eurobodalla Recovery Centre
Eurobodalla’s Recovery Centre will open at 9am on Monday 13 January 2020, located in the Batemans Bay Community Centre at 2 Museum Place, Batemans Bay.
The centre is an official NSW Government Disaster Welfare Assistance Point. On Monday, immediate assistance with accommodation and relief grants will be available to fire-impacted residents.
In the coming days, services will expand to become a one-stop shop for recovery information and services for the community, and to expedite government processes. Professional staff who understand the emergency will be on hand to help. The Recovery Centre will also be a safe place for those affected by the disaster to meet and talk about their experiences. No appointment is necessary. You will be welcomed and supported.
Eurobodalla Recovery Centre
2 Museum Place, Batemans Bay
NEW Looking after your mental health
Additional health workers have arrived from out of the area to assist in providing psychological care, support and services to the Eurobodalla community. They are connected with evacuation centres and the Local Health District care team.
If you or anybody you know needs psychological support, please contact NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000) or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
The following services are here to help. They are confidential and available 24/7.
· NSW Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
· Lifeline – 13 11 14
· Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
· Men’s Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78
· Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800
· 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
· Domestic Violence Line – 1800 656 463
· Beyond Blue Support Service – 1300 22 4636
· Alcohol Drugs Information Service – 1800 250 015
· After Hours GP Helpline – 1800 022 222
· LINKS2HOME Emergency Accommodation – 1800 152 152
Rural Financial Counselling Service P 1800 686 175 Provides free information and assistance to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses on financial position, budgets and funding.
NSW Rural Assistance Authority P 1800 678 593 Provides assistance to rural producers and small businesses in regional NSW.
Reach Out is a youth-focused website which provides help and support for people aged 25 and under.
General practitioners can help you access a Mental Health Care Plan.
NEW Cleaning up after fires
In Eurobodalla, the bushfires have destroyed 449 homes, 73 facilities, and 714 outbuildings, with damage sustained to 228 houses, 28 facilities and 224 outbuildings.
Residents are advised not to sift through fire-damaged material until it has been inspected and verified to be asbestos-free. Licensed contractors from NSW Public Works Authority started working through Eurobodalla’s fire-affected areas on Monday 6 January. PWA is prioritising areas where there is an increased likelihood of children potentially accessing fire-affected sites.
• Do not enter your property until you are advised it is safe to do so by emergency services, utilities companies or council. The building could be unstable, there are possibly electrical hazards, hot coals or hazardous materials.
• Building rubble should not be buried as it may contain hazardous materials.
• Don’t spread ash around your property, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures, or CCA-treated timber was burnt.
• Moisten the ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high pressure water sprays.
Fire affected land managers – stock and infrastructure assistance
Fire affected land managers can report stock losses and infrastructure damage, request animal assessment, or request emergency fodder or water for stock, by calling the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647. Fodder distribution points are now open across the South East. We ask that you call the hotline to register and only present to a fodder distribution point when advised to.
Eurobodalla has been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of people from around Australia donating items for our fire affected residents. However, services are now struggling to manage the volume of donated goods. They’re filling up community space and taking the time of workers away from focusing on the welfare and recovery of residents. The best way people can help is to donate to one of the charities associated with the recovery effort. Money gives people choice to buy the things they really need and lets them support their local businesses by spending locally.
Consider donations to Salvation Army 2019 November Bushfire Appeal, Red Cross Relief and Recovery, St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal, Wildlife Rescue.
For travel within Eurobodalla:
· Broulee Road is open
· Araluen Road remain closed
· Avoid travelling west of the Princes Highway into areas of burnt ground or approaching fires, including areas such as Nerrigundah and Belowra.
The Princes Highway is open north and south. Continue to monitor Live Traffic. Drive cautiously, do not cross road blocks and obey traffic control.
Eurobodalla’s kerbside collection is back on track, but not necessarily up to date yet. The Surf Beach tip fire has put additional pressure on resources and Council is asking residents for patience while operations return to normal after the fires. Please keep your three bins out over the weekend, then resume your normal collection schedule from Monday 13 January.
Council advises they were unable to provide the additional green waste pick-ups advertised for the north of the shire because of the Surf Beach tip closure. Please continue your good bin habits – red for waste, yellow for recycling, green for green waste.
Surf Beach tip is closed due to fire impacts. Moruya Transfer Station will now open seven days per week until Surf Beach re-opens, and Brou tip is open seven days per week.
Residents whose bins have been destroyed by fire, please contact Council’s waste services on 4474 1024 to organise delivery of replacements.
Following yesterday’s fire activity, Essential Energy crews will be back working in north Moruya, Mogo, Tomakin and Lilli Pilli, along with significant work around Country Club Drive and Penguin Place in Catalina. Conditions permitting, Essential Energy aim to restore power to:
Parts of Mogo 112 customers are without power, aiming to restore to majority of customers by Monday afternoon, 13 January.
Parts of Malua Bay, Rosedale 470 customers are without power, aiming to restore to majority of customers by late Sunday, 12 January 2020
In parts of Catalina 260 customers are without power, aiming to restore to majority of customers by late this evening.
Parts of Depot Beach, Durras North and South Durras Safety equipment detected a fault on the powerline feeding power to these customers at lunchtime today. Power has been restored to all 496 customers impacted by this unplanned outage.
Parts of Surf Beach, Sunshine Bay and Batehaven 63 customers are without power. There is significant underground damage to the network in some areas and customers can expect to be without power into the week of 20 January, except some customers in Batehaven who may have power restored today.
Parts of Broulee 40 customers are without power. Investigations continue into the damage to the underground power network in this area. Customers can expect to be without power into the week of 20 January.
Parts of Nelligen 49 customers are without power, aiming to restore power to some customers in urban areas of Nelligen today. Remaining customers can expect to be without power into the week of 20 January.
Parts of Nerrigundah 87 customers without power. Over 80 poles have been identified as needing replacement in the area. Customers can expect to be without power into the week of 20 January.
To assist communities until power is restored Essential Energy has been supporting evacuation centres with generators to telecommunication services, water and sewerage services, nursing homes and supermarkets. The decision to provide a generator is made by the Emergency Operations Centres in conjunction with the Rural Fire Service. Essential Energy has so far assisted with more than 33 generators.
All Eurobodalla residents should be conservative with water use until further notice to ensure we have enough water for drinking and firefighting. All reservoirs are now filled. Do not wet down buildings or grounds or leave sprinklers and hoses running. This is only useful when properties are under threat of fire or ember attack. An ember is a hot glowing coal – cold and blackened leaves are not embers.
If you are staying to defend your property according to your bushfire survival plan, filling your bins with water can be helpful for firefighting. Please empty them after and resume their normal use.
If you notice neighbours misusing water, you might feel comfortable having a chat to explain why it’s important to conserve our water for firefighting and community use, or you can call 1800 755 760 to report.
Smoke, ash, debris, potential runoff from burnt areas and sewer surcharges may have impacted Eurobodalla’s waterways. As a precaution residents are advised to avoid swimming in waterways and beaches for now.
The good news is Eurobodalla’s three swimming centres in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma have re-opened. Council’s website has opening hours and check with the pools for resumption of regular programming. Fire ash continues to be blown into Moruya and Batemans Bay centres and although this ash may be unsightly, the water remains suitable for swimming.
Eurobodalla’s Emergency Operations Centre reminds visitors to delay their travel plans to Eurobodalla for now. Local tourism businesses are urged to adhere to this advice. At this time it is in the best interests of visitors and our community to delay travel plans to Eurobodalla. Many local residents have lost their homes or can't return to them and these people require accommodation, resources and support. There is still active fire in most of Eurobodalla and south to the Victorian border and visitors should stay away from the Eurobodalla until NSW RFS advise otherwise.
NSW Police has deployed additional personnel to Eurobodalla to assist in the emergency response. Fire impacted areas or areas that have evacuated are patrolled regularly to protect property.
NSW Police report there has been no volume crime increase in Eurobodalla. Recent reported incidents of stealing and break and enter do not represent a significant increase on previous years. If you have information about illegal activity or suspected perpetrators, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Australian Defence Force
Australian Defence Force personnel have been deployed to the Far South Coast to assist in bushfire clean-up efforts.
To those at evacuation centres, we thank you for your patience and goodwill in trying circumstances. The centres will remain open and providing support for as long as required. Please talk to centre staff about disaster welfare assistance. We understand online access to information about support services is limited, and printed information is now available at the centres.
Eurobodalla Emergency Operations Centre will continue to provide 10am and 6pm updates for the community. These are distributed to local media, community associations, evacuation centres, posted on Eurobodalla Council’s Facebook page and website, as well as printed and pinned to community noticeboards. Other announcements are made as required via local media and social media. Eurobodalla Council prepares and distributes the official communications as part of the multi-agency emergency response.
Communications can be difficult when power is out. Have a battery-powered radio on hand for company and information when this happens. Our local radio stations ABC Southeast and 2EC/PowerFM are providing continuous coverage and broadcasting the official community updates.
· Fires Near Me app and website or call 1800 679 737
· Live Traffic app and website or call 132 701
· Disaster Welfare Assistance (food and shelter, disaster relief grants) emergency.nsw.gov.au or call 1800 018 444
· NSW DPI Agriculture and Animal Services call 1800 814 647
Warren Sharpe, OAM
Eurobodalla Local Emergency Management Officer