I was reminded over the weekend and through feedback via the blog that life is still very tough for the people of Flowerdale. To put it in perspective, 221 of 350 houses were destroyed. Many of the houses that weren’t destroyed were badly damaged by fire or have been affected by huge amounts of soot or have structural damage and create difficulties for those living there.
On top of that there is the process of dealing with insurance companies, keeping up to date with the various government agencies, applying for grants and trying to get some normality back in life.
To date only a handful of blocks have been cleared and the rubble left in the aftermath of the fire is a stark reminder of what people have lost.
Many people are living in caravans or tents on their blocks, have moved in with others whose properties weren’t destroyed or have arranged some other temporary accommodation. A number of people are living outside the area. Many don’t have power, running water or cooking facilities. None of these situations is ideal. With winter approaching things need to be bedded down because it gets very cold.
It is not clear how long it will take before sites are cleared, how long it will take to get permits to rebuild, what recommendations will come out from the interim report of the Royal Commission and what effect that will have on people seeking to rebuild. Speaking to John Burgess today he told me that he was focussed on working with all the relevant bodies to make sure the community were aware of what was happening but also ensuring that the community can participate and drive what happens in Flowerdale in the immediate and long term future.
The State Government has taken on the plans for the temporary village and has committed to build 24 semi permanent units and provide the necessary infrastructure for the village to run. The allocation of these units is being handled by DHS who can be contacted at the Services Hub at the Community Hall.
VBRRA confirmed yesterday that it will take over the operation of the Village and put in place the necessary staff and resources to manage the operations. This should help things get better organised there and provide clarity as to who is doing what in the temporary village.
The Community Meeting on Friday will be an important part of the next stage. We need to get input into what needs to be done next and ensure maximum community participation and ownership.
To keep up to date with Community meetings the Shire of Murrindindi issue a daily newletter with events both across the area and in Flowerdale.