Disaster relief announced for Sir Ivan victims

It mainly lifted spirits and made them feel as though they weren’t abandoned.

Steve Loane

Victims of the Sir Ivan fire applauded when they heard on Wednesday they would receive funds from the Natural Disaster Relief Assistance Grant.

The announcement lifted spirits of people whose properties were devastated in the February 12 fires in the Warrumbungle Shire.

RECOVERY: Ken Harrison from the Department of Primary Industries spoke at Wednesday’s Sir Ivan Fire Recovery Public Meeting at Coolah. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

RECOVERY: Ken Harrison from the Department of Primary Industries spoke at Wednesday’s Sir Ivan Fire Recovery Public Meeting at Coolah. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Shire Council general manager, Steve Loane, said the 40 people at Wednesday’s Sir Ivan Fire Recovery public meeting at Coolah erupted with applause as they learnt the news of the $15,000 Category C grants.

“It mainly lifted spirits and made them feel as though they weren’t abandoned.” 

Mr Loane said recovery efforts are beginning to come together a month after the fire devastated the region. This includes better guidelines in place for asbestos clean-up which was initially a concern. 

“It looks like insurance companies are going to pick up the entire tab for asbestos clean-up,” he said.

Warrumbungle Mayor Peter Shinton said the Category C declaration offers some positivity in what remains a situation of total upheaval.

“Category C classification has always been the most essential. It brings Centrelink into the equation with all the aid that they can give,” he said.

“This whole process has taken weeks and now that Centrelink is available to these people they can start getting an income and start to become a little bit independent again.

“A lot of farmers don’t like handouts, but once they start getting an income they can start holding their heads up again.” 

Mr Shinton said his council has offered continued support to fire victims and will discuss further assistance at its next meeting.

“… we’re looking at all sorts of reports on how we can help people affected by the fire such as clearing fence lines along council roads, helping stack vegetation, accepting materials from the fire ground at the recycling centres at no charge, and giving water to fill tanks that have been replaced,” he said.

He said a long road remains ahead for the good graziers.