Councillor Len Roberts give Community a MidCoast Council update


New beginnings

As expected the first council meeting of the year dealt with various matters that will assist people affected from the fires and drought to recover. All fees and charges relating to the redevelopment of properties identified by the RFS Building Impact Assessment Team as being damaged or destroyed will be waived. Many people undertaking to build or rebuild their own house often find themselves in temporary need of accommodation. Council has adopted guidelines to provide temporary accommodation onsite during the construction or rebuilding of a dwelling house.

Emergency Situations

The recent bushfire crisis across the state has prompted many coastal communities questioning the need for or the perceived lack of plans, when in fact an emergency management structure exists.

Emergency management response is not under the control of council but the state government through the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) which leads, coordinates and develops capability in the emergency management sector and conducts state-wide welfare and recovery operations when disaster strikes. The OEM is part of the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

What is in place at a local level is the MidCoast EMPLAN. (Emergency Management Plan) Which details the emergency management arrangements across our LGA for all agencies involved in emergency response. The EMPLAN is supported by consequence management guides (CMG’s) which detail how each agency responds to a certain threats eg bushfire, flood etc. LEMC’s generally don’t have an emergency plan for each village or town, because in events like a bushfire the location of the threat changes and becomes very fluid and therefore the planning for response, evacuations and support remains very fluid as well. Plans evolve constantly and if a plan was created then it also needs to be constantly updated.

In our area we have 3 natural disaster scenarios, fire, floods and storms. The most hazardous and frequent for most of our local communities is storms. Flooding is generally of little risk to life but fires can be savage when they happen and can affect multiple communities. There is a possibility of effect from a Tsunami but risk and damage is low.

Council has very recently been notified for funding from the Bushfire Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Fund. It is proposed to undertake a LGA wide education and resilience program around the existing local and state emergency management arrangements, including evacuation and response to future disasters, mitigation practices and the management of recovery etc. This would not be individual plans but letting everyone know that there are plans in place and what to do in certain circumstances.

Along with the Progress Association, I have arranged for an information evening regarding the local emergency management arrangements to be held on Monday 23rd March 7pm at the Baptist Church.

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