Recovery from bushfire events

Following the devastating fires that swept through the MidCoast region during November, there are a number of members of our community who are in need or support or information to help them return to home.

Below is a range of information that may assist if your home or property has been impacted by fires.

Understandably, you will want to return home and return to normal life as soon as possible after a bushfire event.

However, after a bushfire has passed, the area remains dangerous for some time. Please don't drive through bushfire affected areas to 'have a look', this can cause numerous issues for people genuinely affected, and for emergency and clean up services. 

Do not return to a bushfire scene without reading and following the advice below.


 

MidCoast Community Recovery Centre

A disaster welfare assistance point has opened at 68 Wynter Street Taree to support those impacted by recent bushfires.

Run by the NSW Government’s Office of Emergency Management and assisted by MidCoast Council, the centre is designed to provide information on Government and non-Government services in one location and will help speed up the administration of government processes and services, while supporting individuals and communities impacted by disasters.

The assistance point is operating as a base but will also be mobile to allow contact with some of the more remote impacted communities.

This assistance point also provides access to a range of Government and non-Government services including Disaster Welfare Services, the  Red Cross, chaplains, representatives of the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and Rural Fire Service staff.

If you are unable to visit, please call 1800 018 444.

Mobile Recovery Centre

Updated: 29 November 2019 

Recovery support agencies are continuing to visit fire-hit areas to provide updates to the local community. Agencies will include Disaster Welfare, health and wellbeing support, and MidCoast Council. Download the current flyer here(PDF, 611KB)

  • Mooral Creek - 5.30 - 7pm, Wednesday 4 December - Mooral Creek Hall.
  • Tuncurry - 1 - 5pm, Thursday 5 December and 12 December - Tuncurry Memorial Hall.
  • Caffreys Flat - 6 - 9pm, Thursday 5 December - Caffreys Flat Hall.
  • Tinonee - 10am - 2pm, Friday 6 December - Tinonee School of Arts.
  • Rainbow Flat - 3.30 - 6.30pm, Sunday 8 December - Rainbow Flat Service Station (Matilda Blue).

 


Returning home after a fire

Please also refer to the tab on 'Waste Disposal'.

Bushfires can topple trees and power lines and leave debris strewn across the landscape, posing a significant health and safety risk.

You need to be mindful of hazards even after a bushfire has been extinguished.

Read more on the Fact Sheet - Property Hazards after a bushfire(PDF, 54KB) and NSW Fair Trading advice for people affected by natural disaster(PDF, 276KB) .

Do not enter your property until you are advised that it is safe to do so by emergency services, utilities companies or local council.

The NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and Public Works Advisory and Environmental Protection Agency undertake an initial assessment of properties to identify hazards that you need to be aware of and take action to avoid.

The fact sheet below contains information about what to do if a potential hazard has been identified on your property.

Were fire retardants used to defend your home?

The NSW RFS drops fire suppressant retardants and gels such as Phos-Check®, Blazetamer and Thermo-Gel from aircraft during firefighting operations to help slow the spread of a fire. It can assist firefighters in controlling and containing a fire, and help protect properties.

If these products were used on your property, please read this factsheet(PDF, 312KB) .

Clean up

Electrical hazards could exist such as live power lines that may be down or active solar panels.

Buildings and other structures may be unstable to enter or walk over.

Sewerage services may be disrupted causing health risks. 

Be aware that hot, smoldering coals and other potentially hazardous materials may be hidden under the rubble. 

Building rubble should not be buried as it may contain hazardous materials. 

Don’t spread ash around your property, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures, or CCA-treated timber was burnt. 

Moisten the ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high pressure water sprays.

More fact sheets with advice on bushfire clean up:

Damaged solar panels after a bushfire(PDF, 116KB)

Gas Cylinders after a bushfire(PDF, 175KB)

General waste disposal after a bushfire(PDF, 210KB)

Asbestos

Asbestos dust and fibres have the potential to present a health risk during and after a fire if not properly managed.  Asbestos clean-up and removal must be undertaken by a licensed asbestos removalist.  Asbestos waste, including fibro, should be disposed of as soon as possible.  The materials should be kept damp until they can be double wrapped in heavy duty (0.2mm) plastic, sealed with tape and labelled as asbestos waste.

For more information, read the  NSW Environmental Protection Authority's guide to Asbestos and Fire-damaged buildings

Using rainwater after a fire

It’s important for residents in fire affected areas, or in areas where ash may have fallen on roofs, to ensure rainwater from the first full rainfall event is not collected as it may be contaminated by ash.

If you think that your rainwater tank has been contaminated you can still use the water to fight fires, flush toilets and wash clothes (provided it will not stain them). 

Renting the property?

Insured?

If you are insured talk to your insurance company as soon as possible about how to make a claim.  Take photos or video of damage to your property and possessions as evidence for your claim. If you have clearance from your insurer and evidence for your claim, you can start cleaning up. 

The Insurance Council of Australia can be contacted with any questions, complaints or concerns about insurance on 1800 734 621.

Not insured?

NSW Government Disaster Relief Grants are available for eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household contents have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster. Contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.



Water refill points

Six temporary emergency water fill points have been installed for properties affected by the fires.

The supply points are located at

  • 408 Bulga Rd Wingham 
  • 1 Coglan Ave Wingham
  • 62 Mill St Krambach
  • 79 Beecher St Tinonee
  • 1 Dibb Street Nabiac
  • 1234 Gloucester Rd Wingham

Residents in rural areas affected by fire can use these points to fill portable containers for essential domestic use.

Bulk water deliveries to refill water tanks on properties need to be separately arranged with a suitable water carting contractor. 



Your health

When smoky, avoid vigorous exercise outside, especially if you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or a breathing related condition.

If you have an air conditioner at home, turn it on and use it in a recirculate mode.

If you are experiencing any adverse reactions to the dust or smoke, such as shortness of breath, prolonged coughing or wheezing, seek medical advice.

Tank water could have become contaminated from debris, retardant, ash or dead animals. If the water tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not drink it or give it to animals.

All foods that have been fire-damaged or affected by heat should be thrown out - including refrigerate dfoods if there has been a power outage during the fire. 

Mental health

It’s completely normal to experience a range of emotions after a fire, including anxiety, forgetfulness, sleep disturbance and more.  Having someone to listen to and support you through this is very important. Check in on your friends and neighbours, and if you or someone you know needs help, reach out.

The following are free services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 

  • Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
  • Mensline - 1300 789 978
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
  • Beyondblue 1300 22 4636

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

The following free services are available to people impacted by fires and drought. No GP referral is needed.

Hunter / New England Healthwise 1800 931 540

Northern NSW - Connect to Wellbeing 1300 160 339  

These fact sheets may also help:

Take Care of Yourself(PDF, 779KB)

Coping with community crisis or natural disaster(PDF, 215KB)

Coping with loss and change in a community after natural disaster(PDF, 323KB)

Getting through floods, drought and extreme climate events

Helping children cope after a natural disaster(PDF, 238KB)



Animal welfare

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services officers are assisting landholders in northern NSW to manage animal welfare-related issues, which include: 

  • Emergency fodder and stock water
  • Animal assessment and veterinary assistance 
  • Stock euthanasia and burial 
  • Livestock feeding and management advice 
  • Care of animals in evacuation centres 

 Call the Agricultural Services Hotline on 1800 814 647 Download the factsheet.(PDF, 1022KB)



Rural and landholders assistance 

Rural Aid Disaster Assistance 

Rural Aid Disaster Assistance is available - Get the information flyer here(PDF, 3MB)

It's important to look after yourself and your family, this fact sheet may be helpful:

Getting through floods, drought and extreme climate events(PDF, 2MB)

Free title searches and plan images

NSW Land Registry Services (NSW LRS) is helping landholders affected by the recent NSW bushfires by providing title searches and plan images of their property free of charge.

Property searches and plans can assist landholders with insurance claims and development applications to council, as well as provide peace of mind regarding land ownership following natural disasters.

If you have been affected by the recent bushfires and would benefit from access to land and property information from the land titles register, please call the NSW LRS Contact Centre on 1300 396 076 (regional callers) or (02) 8776 3575 and we can discuss how best to assist you.

NSW LRS operates the land titles register on behalf of the NSW Government, as well as the General Register of Deeds and the Water Access Licence Register. These registers hold essential information about properties across the state, including about ownership, restrictions on use, title boundaries, plans, and water access and use. Information held on these registers is available for landowners to view through land and property information searches.



Businesses affected by bushfire

If your business has been affected by fire or important business documents have been lost or destroyed, you may need to use some of the information and forms below to help get the business running again.

 



Accessing property plans and approvals

For copies of plans and approvals for your property, please submit:

Bushfire Recovery - Informal request for access to information application

Bushfire recovery applications will be given priority and processed as soon as possible.



Donations

ManningValleyRecovers.Org

This central online Bushfire Recovery hub for the Manning Valley and surrounds if the place to go to if you want to volunteer, donate, or need help.

https://manningvalley.recovers.org/

This site is administered by the MidCoast Community Recovery Centre, and co-organised by Manning Valley Emergency Support, Taree Business Chamber, Lions Club of Taree, Wingham Seventh-day Adventist Church, Bobin School of Arts and Taree Babtist Church.

NSW Government agencies along with charity partners and local community organisations are helping to provide emergency shelter, food and water.

The best way to help our impacted communities is to donate money to one of the many charities or appeals that have been established.

Money gives people the choice to buy things they need and support local businesses that have also been impacted. 

Please do not donate physical goods such as toys, furniture and clothes at this time. They are usually not needed and take up too much space in community facilities, while taking volunteers away from other important tasks. If you have unwanted physical goods please consider selling them and donating the proceeds instead. 

  • The Salvation Army 13 72 58
  • Vinnies 13 18 12
  • The Red Cross 1800 733 276 


Worried about bushfire hazards on your property?

Reporting a bushfire hazard

If you are concerned about bush fire hazards on your property, or the property adjacent to you, the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) can provide advice regarding preparing your property against bush fires and what you have to do in the event of a bush fire. Click here to report a bushfire hazard to the RFS.



Waste disposal

Free green waste and metal disposal at MidCoast waste management centres

MidCoast Council has waived green waste disposal fees for the community up until Christmas.

 As part of the response to the recent bushfires, Council has made it free to dispose of green waste at waste management centres to support those members of the community who wish to clean up their yards and properties for the current fire season.

Green waste can be dropped at MidCoast waste management centres for free from Saturday 30 November up until 24 December 2019.

Sorted metal is also able to be disposed of for free. This allows fire impacted residents to take all their fencing wire, shed metal, car bodies, white goods (eg fridges and washing machines)  and other metal to any MidCoast Council waste management centre for free.

Members of the community who have a fire damaged house or building that needs to be disposed of, should first speak to their insurer. If the building is uninsured, the Department of Public Works should be contacted.

MidCoast Council is also working with local contractors to establish sorted metal collection points for fire impacted members of the community in more remote locations.

NSW Goverment assistance for waste clean-up

Insured property

For insured homes that have been damaged or destroyed, insurance companies will arrange clean-up and removal of bushfire debris. The NSW Government will provide financial assistance to ensure any extraordinary clean-up costs do not result in a reduction in the insured amount for rebuilding. This additional assistance will be made available through insurers.

If the property is insured, fire-affected residents should continue to work with their insurers on clean-up.

Uninsured property

For uninsured homes that have been damaged or destroyed, Public Works Advisory can arrange for the clean-up and removal of bushfire debris from residences and immediately adjacent outbuildings, including the removal of asbestos and concrete slabs.

If the property is uninsured, you should contact Public Works Advisory on 1800 88 55 39 to discuss clean-up. You can also call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.



NSW Government Financial Assistance

Economic Recovery and Community Resilience Grants

The NSW Government and the Australian Government have announced a $12 million grants program to support economic recovery and community resilience in the North Coast, Northern Tablelands and Mid North Coast regions, following the recent severe bushfires. This includes the MidCoast Council region.

The Economic Recovery and Community Resilience Grants Program will drive community and economic recovery at the local level and build community resilience to future disaster events.

Community and industry groups, councils and incorporated bodies will be able to apply for funding to implement recovery and resilience projects that will make a real and practical difference to fire-affected communities.

The $12 million grants program will provide $4 million to each of the North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands regions over a two year period. An additional $1.2 million will support administration and evaluation of the program.

Funding will be available for a range of initiatives including those that:

  • support councils and community organisations to provide recovery services
  • fund individual community initiatives or events that support local recovery
  • deliver community information programs or commemorative events
  • stimulate tourism and small business activity and create local job opportunities
  • restore cultural and heritage sites
  • build community resilience
  • invest in community infrastructure in fire-affected communities

The grants program will be implemented in partnership with local government in 2020 and 2021, with the first round to be opened in the coming months. Councils, community organisations and business groups are encouraged to start planning those recovery and resilience initiatives that will support fire-affected communities.

The NSW Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be discussing implementation arrangements with councils, joint organisations and regional recovery committees, to ensure that funding is prioritised and made available to support recovery in the most fire-affected communities in each region.

This program is part of an $18.2 million joint State/Commonwealth Community Recovery Fund, which also includes funding for additional mental health services.

Recovery Grants and Mental Health Services

The NSW and Commonwealth Governments will provide up to $48.25 million to support the recovery of communities and industries in the North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands regions (this includes the MidCoast Council region), following the recent severe bushfires. This is the largest bushfire disaster relief funding package recorded in NSW.

What will the funding go towards?

  • $30 million for grants of up to $15,000 for primary producers and small businesses to assist with clean-up and the replacement of infrastructure, including repairing and replacing damaged fences, equipment and machinery. Applicants must derive more than 50% of their income from the farming operation or small business in question and demonstrate direct physical damage from the fires on their property. Grants do not cover those who have lost cash flow as a result of the fires.
  •  To support existing mental health resources, $4.05 million has been allocated to employ an additional nine Bushfire Recovery Clinicians across the three regions for 18 months for individuals, community groups and emergency services personnel, delivered in collaboration with general practitioners, allied health professionals, schools, public mental health services and private psychologists and psychiatrists;
  • $13.2 million is allocated to fund the Economic Recovery and Community Resilience Grants Program, with $4 million available for each of the North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands regions. Community and industry groups, local governments and incorporated bodies will be able to apply for funding to implement recovery and resilience projects that will make a real and practical difference to fire-affected communities.

The grants program will be implemented in partnership with local councils and joint organisations in 2020 and 2021.

Applying for a grant or access to mental health services

Enquiries and applications for primary producer and small business recovery grants can be made to the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or online at https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/grants/disaster-recovery-grants

Please contact your General Practitioner is you require mental health assistance.

For further information please see emergency.nsw.gov.au.

Other assistance measures

People who have lost important identity documents like a birth certificate or marriage certificate in the bushfires can have them replaced for free to help them recover as quickly as possible.

Individuals requiring a new driver’s licence will be issued with an interim licence on the spot allowing them to get back on the road immediately, with the new licence card being delivered 7 to 10 days after the transaction.

Service NSW’s Mobile Service Centres are visiting bushfire affected communities to assist customers with government transactions, including replacement identity documents.



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