Bushfire Recovery Remains Key Priority for Orara Valley Despite COVID-19

4 years ago | by

Melinda Brooks

The NSW bushfire clean-up program remains a key priority despite the uncertainty presented by COVID-19.

“While COVID-19 has been dominating headlines, I wanted to reassure the Orara Valley community that Coffs Harbour City Council continues to progress our bushfire recovery response,” said Steve McGrath, Council’s General Manager.

The NSW Government contractor Laing O’Rourke has deployed community engagement teams to contact already-registered bushfire-affected property-owners in the Orara area to plan clean-up works. The clean-up is free for all eligible properties.

Council is also very pleased to announce that the dedicated Bushfire Recovery Officer promised for the Orara Valley has been appointed and has begun work.

Melinda Brooks (pictured above), a disaster recovery specialist who lived through the 2011 Margaret River bushfire, will be working with the Orara Valley community to support them as they move forward through the long-term recovery process.

“From the very first discussions with local residents, it was clear that having an expert Recovery Officer available full-time was going to be massively important in helping people emerge from this disaster as strongly as possible and we’re delighted to have Melinda on board,” said Mr McGrath.

Melinda is being funded from the $1.3m bushfire recovery funds provided for the Coffs Harbour local government area by the Australian and NSW Governments.

“In my role as a Red Cross Emergency Services Volunteer I have been involved in both the initial response and recovery phases of the Liberation Trail fire in the Coffs Harbour and Clarence Valley area,” she said.  “While working with affected communities I have heard stories of trauma, survival and heartache, but also met everyday people who in time of need have done and continue to do extraordinary things for their communities.

“Having been through the 2011 Margaret River bushfire, I have an appreciation and understanding of the longevity, complexities and celebrations that people endure during the recovery process. I’m looking forward to walking alongside the Orara Valley community on this journey.”

COVID-19 safety measures mean that Melinda cannot currently use the temporary office set up in Nana Glen, but residents can contact Melinda by calling 6648 4840 or emailing her at melinda.brooks@chcc.nsw.gov.au Information and useful links on local bushfire recovery efforts can be found on Council’s Have Your Say website.

Laing O’Rourke is adapting how their teams communicate and interact with bushfire impacted communities to comply with social distancing and is also working closely with local subcontractors to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place. Find out more: https://cleanup.lnbr.com.au/

If your property was hit by the 2019 bushfires and needs clearing, but you have not yet registered, call 13 77 88, or register by visiting https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/register-opt-nsw-bushfire-clean

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