Residents keen to return to their fire damaged or destroyed homes to begin the clean-up process are being urged to wait for the experts.
East Gippsland Shire Council is awaiting an announcement from the Victorian Government and Bushfire Response and Recovery Taskforce as to how the large-scale clean-up of public and private property will be coordinated. The clean-up following the Black Saturday fires of 2009 was coordinated and funded by the State.
East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr John White said he was aware of residents wanting to get started on the clean-up and start the recovery process.
“This clean up will be the start of the recovery for many people and I appreciate the urge to get things started, especially cleaning up damaged homes,” Cr White said.
“We want this done right and without residents putting themselves in danger of being exposed to risks. Buildings and other structures damaged or burned in a bushfire represent a series of potential hazards, including asbestos and chemicals. Also, if contaminated waste is presented unknowingly to our waste sites it also puts council staff and assets at risk.
“East Gippslanders are very practical and self-sufficient but there are some things best left to people who have the expertise, the right equipment for the job and the necessary safety gear,” Cr White said.
Over the last week crews from the emergency services have been undertaking an initial assessment of property damage in fire affected areas.
“Once advised by the incident controller, Council will lead a more detailed assessment of the safety of fire damaged properties and provide advice to property owners. Insurance assessors will also need to assess damage to process claims,” Cr White said.
“We know this can be frustrating, but the safety of our community is our priority.”
The Premier and Victorian Government has been supportive of our urgent needs during this emergency. This is another of those urgent needs and I’m confident clean-up details will be announced very soon so our residents can start to pick up the pieces of these bushfires.
“I have also previously requested local contractors and businesses, with widespread community support, be prioritised for this work.”
When it is safe to return to properties, ‘Return to home kits’ will be available. These include overalls, mask, gloves etc.
The Victorian Government has published safety tips on returning home and other information for after a bushfire. Some are available at the links below:
Bushfire aftermath – safety tips
Recovering from a bushfire
Fire Relief & Recovery Documents