Residents still without drinking water more than six months after bushfire emergency

Residents still without drinking water more than six months after bushfire emergency

A survey has found some residents are still without drinking water and accommodation support more than six months after this year's bushfire emergency began.

Almost 2000 residents have registered for bushfire support, with 360 so far responding to an ongoing needs survey, involving Resilience NSW, Bega Valley Shire Council Council and Service NSW, designed to "respond to the most immediate and pressing unmet needs".

"Through your responses on completed surveys, we are aware that people are still in need of drinking water, accommodation support, sanitation, mental wellbeing, rebuild info, property access and more," head of council's recovery project Chris Horsburgh said.

"Asking for help can be confronting for a community that prides itself on it's ability to make good and find solutions, but it is natural and normal to need a hand in these exceptional circumstances."

Over more than two month's, the Badja Forest Road, Werri Berri, Big Jack Mountain Road, Postmans Trail and Border fires covering 540,000ha, or 58 per cent of the Bega Valley, destroyed 466 homes and claimed four lives.

NSW Rural Fire Service public liaison officer Marty Webster said in terms of hectares burnt and properties damaged the 2019/20 bushfire season was the largest fire event the region had ever experienced.

"The size of the task we are all responding to is enormous and perhaps only matched by the depth of emotion people are feeling and the complexity of their individual situations," Mr Horsburgh said.

"But that doesn't mean we aren't up to the task or that we shy away from the responsibility I think we all feel as members of this great community.

"We are making initial contact with survey respondents to determine the most challenging need and how those needs can be best met in the shortest time frame.

"There is a lot for people to deal with at the moment, but we are hoping that those who haven't had a chance to complete the survey yet will be able to soon."

Mr Horsburgh said the survey will be available online until early August.

"We have around 1,900 people registered with the support service, all with different levels of need, and this survey is allowing us to respond to the most immediate and pressing unmet needs," Mr Horsburgh said.

The survey was sent to registered residents with an email address, with the Red Cross set to contact others with the option of completing a paper survey.

Council said their partnership with the state government on the survey "has strengthened the connections between recovery agencies and those needing support and allowed for a more tailored response", with the recovery process to "continue for a number of years" as staff "respond to the evolving needs of the community".

This story Residents still without drinking water more than six months after bushfire emergency first appeared on Bega District News.

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