The devastating fires which swept through our Shire on New Year’s Day has had a huge impact on our community.
30,000 ha of land has been burnt with 6 houses, numerous farm sheds, much machinery and over 20,000 head of livestock lost as well as hundreds of kilometres of fencing. This fire is particularly devastating for the many farmers affected coming out of the ‘worst drought in living memory’, and losing so much. While many of them still have their house, they have lost everything else.
Over 200 properties were affected by the fire. Some families lost their home and everything in it. Many others have their house but have lost everything else.
The task to rebuild will be a huge one and people are still assessing their losses and trying to come to grips with what has happened.
However, we have proved time and time again that we are not only a very caring community but also a resilient one. But this time we do need help.
I have launched a Mayoral Appeal for cash for victims of the fire. Donations can be sent to Junee Shire Council Bush Fire Relief Appeal. These funds will be distributed through a special committee I have set up with local representatives from various aid agencies who have processes in place to distribute funds. It will be some time before the full extent of the losses and the financial impact are known.
A fodder drive, co-ordinated by the Department of Primary Industry is also under way. This will be a long on-going need as those farmers who still have some stock have no feed for them on the ground and they have lost all the hay they made this year in the fire.
St Vincent de Paul and Anglicare are handling donations of goods such as clothing, kitchen equipment, furniture, etc.
There are insufficient words to pay tribute to and thank all those who put their own lives at risk and did a magnificent job fighting an unstoppable fire. Driven by 45 degree temperatures and hot winds gusting up to 80 km an hour, the pace and the ferocity of the fire was indeed daunting. The assistance received from units from both the NSW Fire Brigade and the Rural Fire Service was invaluable and certainly appreciated. Brigades came from many areas to give assistance and without them and the aerial support, especially the helicopter in the town area, the devastation and loss of property would have been a lot worse.
On behalf of Junee Shire, my sincere thanks to all who assisted.