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Open letter to Councillors regarding Narooma Evac Centre NOT being open for evacuees on Jan 23rd

Dear Councillors, Just so that you can NOT claim you have not been informed. On Thursday January 23rd 3pm the Council announced (via a media release) for MORUYA.

Moruya evacuation centre now open

The evacuation centre in Moruya opened today at 2.30pm today for residents needing to evacuate and will stay open until no longer required.

Moruya evacuation centre: Moruya Basketball stadium, in the showgrounds, Albert Street, Moruya. The alert at the time for Moruya, West Moruya, Mogendoura and Wamban was: · If you are in the areas of Moruya, West Moruya, Mogendoura and Wamban, you are at risk. MEANWHILE further south in the same 3pm Council update it said: On Thursday afternoon beginning around 1pm onJanuary 23rd the residents of Tilba, Mystery Bay, North Narooma and Wagonga were advise by the RFS to make their way to Narooma ahead of the approaching fires. At 1:03pm If you are in the Dignams Creek area, on the western side of the Princes Highway, leave now towards Narooma if the path is clear. At 1:45pm -The fire is burning towards the area of Wagonga Scenic Drive.

If you are in the Wagonga Scenic Drive area, leave now towards Narooma if the path is clear. At 2:25pm If you are in the Wagonga Scenic Drive area, leave now towards Narooma if the path is clear. The first communication from the Eurobodalla Operations Centre was at 2:57pm Jan 23rd. It advised:

Moruya evacuation centre now open

The evacuation centre in Moruya opened today at 2.30pm today for residents needing to evacuate and will stay open until no longer required.

Moruya evacuation centre: Moruya Basketball stadium, in the showgrounds, Albert Street, Moruya. This advice regarding Moruya was repeated at 7pm with NO mention of Narooma at all other than: Tilba and Mystery Bay area

· If your plan is to leave or you are not prepared, leave now towards Narooma if the path is clear.

Dignams Creek

· Leave now towards Bega if the path is clear.

· The Princes Highway has been impacted between Narooma and Dignams Creek.

West Narooma - Wagonga Scenic Drive area

· Leave now towards Narooma if the path is clear. By this stage the residents of Tilba, Mystery Bay, North Narooma and Wagonga had already evacuated their homes and were assembled in Narooma as advised. They went to the Narooma Leisure Centre. Why? It was part of their Bushfire Plan that they had been asked to prepare. It was the location for information, for support, for food and for safety. Many in the community heeded the warning, packed up their bags once again and drove to town expecting to find their PLANNED Narooma Evacuation centre open. It wasn't. It was locked shut. There was no notice on the door, no information. Nothing. Those community members who had previously evacuated to the Centre on New Year's Eve knew to make their way to the Nata Oval to find a parking spot. It took less than an hour to fill the oval as people poured into the town, leaving their homes and following the RFS advice that were being dispatched via the Fires near Me app and as text messages to their phones. Councillors, What ensued at Narooma that day was less than acceptable given the enormity of the emergency. Your community arrived, seeking shelter, seeking information, seeking support and leadership and found .... a locked door. The very first official mention of the Narooma Evacuation Centre came in a media release at 10pm that night People sheltering somewhere safe in Narooma should stay where they are overnight. The Narooma Leisure Centre is now open for people to shelter if required. It is not an evacuation centre. Narooma residents unable to return home tonight due to fires can call Disaster Welfare to arrange emergency accommodation: call 1800 422 322. then the update from the Eurobodalla Emergency Operations Centre update 23 January 11.50pm said: The Narooma Leisure Centre opened briefly for shelter this afternoon but is now closed. Anyone needing shelter can go to Club Narooma. If they haven’t already, residents of fire-impacted areas west of Narooma unable to return home tonight can call Disaster Welfare to arrange emergency accommodation: call 1800 422 322. Councillors, To ensure that you can not say "I wasn't aware" here are just some of the hundreds of comments across social media in regards to the failure of Council to open the Narooma Evacuation centre and have it in readiness to provide information on how to source emergency accommodation, provide water, provide information and most of all provide leadership. There is NO DOUBT that from the very first RFS instruction for residents to evacuate from Dignams Creek around 1pm that Council could not have ensured that the Centre doors were open, updated information on emergency accommodation available, possible provision of water made available and at least someone there to meet and greet instead of a LOCKED DOOR. Following many phone calls, inboxes and texts The Beagle posted this at 2:26pm EVACUATION CENTRES: as at 2:20pm

Bega Valley Council advise that the Bega Showground is being reestablished as an evacuation centre for people needing a safer place this afternoon as the bushfire emergency develops.

There is NO advice from Eurobodalla Council for Narooma and Moruya residents requested to evacuate

A phone call to Council by the Beagle at 2:15pm was diverted to its after hour phone service where the operator had no information to provide advising that Council offices had closed.

The Council website and Council Facebook has no information posted.

If you are evacuating to Narooma or Moruya follow the RFS advice:

If you are threatened by fire

Do not be in the path of the fire. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire. Wear protective clothing and footwear. Cover all exposed skin. If the fire impacts, seek shelter in a solid structure to protect yourself from the heat of the fire. If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000). If you are in an area that has already been affected by fire, there may be small areas of active fire burning for some time. Be aware of the dangers of trees and branches falling. The Beagle has been advised that later in the day one local councilor did arrive to sit on a chair outside "and all he could do was say the centre wasn't open and that he had no information." Councillors,

For you information here are some of the hundreds of comments around the failure that the community perceive of Eurobodalla Council (and therefore YOU) in regards to the events in Narooma on January 23rd 2020. M.K "I've just moved to the ACT from Eurobodalla shire. If only Eurobodalla functioned as well. It's not just about funding. It's attitude and community care. There are many things Eurobodalla shire council could learn from ACT government. Start with proactive and preemptive community care." R.L "Council have EVERYTHING to do with leadership, of which, they are sorely lacking. Emergency plan? Was there ever one? And in the instance, of an emergency, how about back up staff? That would boost the local economy; given the amount of monies bequeathed to various parties, perhaps the council could employ extra staff to prepare for future summers and the inherent fire risk we now face, continually over peak fire seasons. Sounds sensible to me. Sick of people passing the buck. It is not wholly up to RFS, SES, to prepare people. Hello council??"

L.D "Once again ESC nowhere to be seen when needed! Where are you Liz? Didn't you learn anything from Bega Valley council on how to handle this? Narooma residents obviously have to fend for themselves. " And from the following day Jan 25th 2020

8am 25th Jan 2020

KLB : Anyone know whether the twice daily briefings at the Narooma Evac centre will resume now that things have flared up? I know everyone is working hard but there seems to be a disturbing lack of information from people on the ground this time around.

9am…. KLB. I’ve just been to the Evac Centre. There is one nice lady there offering support. Have asked her to contact her superior and let them know the community needs a focal point for information, similar to what they had in place at the beginning of the month.

responded to by Lindsay Brown Not at this stage, currently the only official info is available on the rfs app and also eurobodalla shire council facebook and website is up-to-date.

KLB responds ….. With the greatest respect for what you and many others are doing for the community, and I know it takes time, effort and money to man the evac centre. But morale among the clients and friends approaching me is very low and many are feeling abandoned. A lot of people are saying ‘they just want the fires to come through and get it over with’, which is a pretty unhealthy frame of mind to be in. Those told to evacuate on Thursday arrived at a locked building they had come to recognise as their safe place. The website was telling them to go to Moruya Evac Centre at a time the Princes hwy was being closed and Moruya itself was under threat. The apps and websites are helpful but not in those situations. They need more personal contact.

SH says … Thank you KLB for voicing exactly what so many are thinking & feeling, abandoned. I think the council has had several months of this situation to get their 'planning' together. Unprecedented situations need unprecedented responses.

SP adds …. Lindsay I am one of those who, as KLB says, are wishing we could get this over with and if that means living through the fire coming over us, then so be it. Hop