Bushfires have ravaged our region for weeks, but the past two days have been devastating. The threat of further fire activity will continue with a number of communities still in the direct line of fire.
Firstly, I wish to acknowledge the many residents who have been impacted and our thoughts are with everyone at this time.
This is a large-scale emergency and there have been major impacts on private and public infrastructure. Working with other agencies, we are currently seeking to understand the magnitude of the devastation and loss.
It goes without saying that the emergency services who are both based here in East Gippsland and the many hundreds of those who have been commandeered to assist have done a magnificent job.
We have also seen incredible efforts from residents who stayed to defend their own properties and other infrastructure. These efforts, combined with excellent preparation, have meant less destruction than there could have been.
All this in our region’s busiest time of the year, when we welcome thousands of visitors to East Gippsland.
Council’s response to the emergency and service delivery in impacted areas is a priority. For us, this includes supporting the lead agencies, the provision of relief centres, waste services, logistics around community support, and where possible maintaining our customer service points. However, some of our other services, such as waste collection, are reduced in the immediate future.
Council has been working to help those who have left their homes and have no-where else to go, by setting up Emergency Relief Centres and providing immediate support. These centres are being run by our staff and have representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Red Cross, Victoria Police and Salvation Army. These centres at Bairnsdale, Omeo, Orbost, Lakes Entrance and Delegate will remain open until further notice.
For the people and businesses impacted, those who have relocated and those who have lost everything, we are assessing who they are, what they need and how we can best support them.
People in affected areas are encouraged to register with the Red Cross at Register.Find.Reunite or by calling 1800 277 077.
Our community is resilient. This will test us but together we will get through this emergency and recover.
We are here to support our residents in this difficult time, and through the recovery. East Gippsland will require significant assistance to help our communities recover.
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by these fires and we will continue to be provide as much support as possible. Look after each other!
Please keep up-to-date with the emergency information and road closures via the Vic Emergency app, monitor the radio and make sure you source information from various sources.