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Presentation to Council by Joan Armstrong 11th 2020

Public Forum Presentation to Council Meeting 11th February 2020

Agenda item GMR20/002

Back in August 2019 the Bushfire and National Hazards Co-operative Research centre released a bushfire outlook for the coming season showing that large areas of eastern Australia were facing above normal potential . With 80% of the Shire being National Park,public reserve or state forest this should have raised some concern . The Currowan fire started on 26th of November and gradually joined with the Clyde mountain and Kings HIghway fire to create extreme and catastrophic conditions. It was amazing that unlike the Black Saturday fires that more lives were not lost. Although council and staff would like to take credit that - quote - 'people were kept safe and taken out of harms way' is a fallacy . The truth of the matter is that the community were mainly left to their own devices and it was only their resilience and community spirit that endured. For example those who were trying to phone Council for advice were met with a message that the office was closed from the 24th December until the 6th of January 2020 and then again until the 13th January ! Who was it that made this executive decision to 'close shop' during a most traumatic bushfire situation ?

Council claims to have taken a leadership role throughout this disaster but it is unfortunate that many councillors and staff were conspicuous by their absence.

Communications in conjunction with NSWRFS emergency bushfire warnings to leave to Narooma and Moruya were inadequate with people arriving at evacuation centres only to find them closed.

Evacuation centres need to be identified early and up to a standard that follows the NSW State Emergency Management Plan and follow the Major Evacuation Centre Guidelines . This would avoid any possible Heath issues that could arise . Will the recently established Eurobodalla Recovery Committee consult the community and issue weekly reports to be made available to the community ?

In the interest of fairness The Eurobodalla Disaster Recovery Fund should be headed by a panel independent of any councillor or staff member. This would hopefully avoid any controversy that should arise.

I conclude with saying that it was extremely disappointing that many councillors and staff did not rise to to meet their obligations to the community during this traumatic time.

Joan Armstrong

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