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Shire more resilient this summer

As we head into summer, Eurobodalla’s Local Emergency Management Officer is reassuring residents that bushfire conditions and our supporting infrastructure are significantly different to last year.

Eurobodalla Council’s Warren Sharpe OAM, who provides guidance on emergency management matters in the shire, said that despite the different conditions, residents still needed to prepare their properties for all natural disasters.

“In 2019 we saw the driest conditions in recorded history, while in 2020 we’ve seen three floods and have La Niña in play,” he said.

“We’re more concerned with floods and storms in 2020 but urge the community to prepare their property for all disasters – fires, floods and storms.

“More information about how to prepare is on the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service websites or you can get in contact with your local brigade.”

Mr Sharpe said supporting infrastructure was now much more resilient following significant post-fire efforts by Council and other agencies using the lessons learnt from last summer.

“Telecommunications are more resilient with new power back-up systems installed by Telstra, and the shire’s evacuation centres are being hard wired with back-up power connections before Christmas.

“The power network is more robust with new poles, and Essential Energy has even delivered standalone power supplies in remote communities.

“We know we can still lose telecommunications, power and other services. Our focus has been to lobby agencies to make improvements so this occurs less often.

“We’re also keeping pressure on the federal government to help us secure our future water supply by providing their share of funding for the new water storage in the south of shire.

“We’re doing our bit too and by Christmas we expect to have built 14 new fire resilient concrete bridges, replacing timber structures lost in the fires. These will also perform better in floods.

“Our highways and local roads are less susceptible to tree fall, with significant burnt and hazardous trees being removed. We may have more slips and washaways due to saturated ground conditions and heavy rain and we ask our community to contact us if they see this anywhere on our road network.”

Mr Sharpe said it was pleasing to see businesses throughout the shire, including aged care facilities and petrol stations, taking steps to be more prepared for disasters. Some have added permanent back-up power systems, and others have worked on their ‘stay in place’ plans.

“People are far more motivated to participate with the RFS and to prepare their property and survival plans, which remains most critical of all things that we can all do,” he said.

“People also seem more interested in working together and looking out for their elderly neighbours.”