A team of around 20 volunteers from Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) have returned to the Bega Valley this week to again help locals with bushfire recovery.
In late 2019, six lives were lost and more than 300 homes were destroyed when the Baja Forest Road Fire raced through the town of Cobargo and surrounding areas.
Significant COVID-19 restrictions forced the DRA team to cease its operation and return at a later date.
Mission Commander for Disaster Relief Australia, Mark Keeton, told East Coast Radio the team are already set up at the Narira Sports Centre in Cobargo and ready to help locals once again.
“We’ve kicked off now in our administration phase and we’ll be here for the next 10 weeks, until at least mid-April, getting our teams out there to help the local community,” Commander Keeton said.
Specifically, it’s the communities of Yowrie, Windella, Verona, Upper Brogo, Quaama, and Cobargo that the DRA team will focus on and locals who need support in those areas are asked to come forward and ask for it.
As part of the DRA’s Bega Valley Shire Bushfire Recovery relief and recovery efforts, they will offer the following capabilities:
• Damage and impact assessments
• Route clearance and property access
• Debris removal
• Chainsaw work
• Expedient home repair
• Fence removal/installation
• Listening and wellbeing assistance
Commander Keeton said there were around 130 bushfire recovery jobs in the Bega Valley still on their list from when the DRA team were forced to leave the area in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve contacted everyone on the list of 130 and some are in a better place now but we’ve still got around 70 of those jobs still on the books that we need to go visit and help,” Commander Keeton said.
“We’re also taking on new jobs, so people can ring us and ask if we can help them with jobs at their place, and I expect more people will continue to contact us and say we need your help.”
Locals wanting assistance can call 0458 229 756 or visit the Narira Sports Centre in Cobargo during regular business hours. Disaster Relief Australia can also be contacted via their Facebook page.
Mission Commander, Mark Keeton said the Bega Valley operation name “Salway” was chosen for a good reason.
“We named it after local community member, Frank Salway, who served in both France and Belgium during World War I, his service in France earned him three decorations from both the French and Belgium governments,” Commander Keeton said.
“He served in Parliament for a number of years and was Captain of the Cobargo Bush Fire Brigade for more 55 years and just a big figure in the community.”
Operation Salway received funding from the Australian Government.
It will run for a minimum of 10 weeks and will be complete before June 2023.
Note: DRA does not provide licensed/trade-certified services as part of our service offerings.
Images: Disaster Relief Australia