In the wake of last week’s unexpected severe weather events, it's still hard to believe that it's only October. As we look back on the past week, we have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm reminded once again of how strong our community is. Last week, we faced two extreme weather events within just 48 hours. Out of control bushfires stretched over 20,000 hectares across Heyfield, Briagolong, and Loch Sport. Then, we were hit by a major flooding event, starting in Glenmaggie heading downstream to Tinamba, Newry and all the way down to the Port of Sale.
Our top priority has always been the safety of our community. We quickly activated an official Emergency Relief Centre at the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex in Sale in the early hours of Tuesday last week, with our team of trained relief and recovery staff stepping up to provide support. Despite the unique weather conditions shifting from fire to flood, our team continued to provide shelter, comfort, and regular updates to support our community.
I want to share my gratitude to everyone who came together to help, from our team spanning Emergency Management, Built Environment and Roads, Local Laws, Customer Service, Communications and Media, and those who took time away from their usual duties to support the emergency. Throughout last week, crews on the ground worked tirelessly through the night, putting up road closure signs across affected areas. The conditions were tough with fierce wind, rain, and heat but they did what was necessary to keep our communities safe. I also want to extend my thanks to the front-line workers who came from all parts of the state to support the emergency response. Our entire community is grateful, and we know that the impacts felt would be far more devastating if not for this support.
While the rain brought much-needed relief to many farmers in our area, the embers of the fire still smoulder in the ground. I want to thank everyone who shared important emergency warnings and messages. Being prepared and knowing where to find official emergency messaging are the top things you can do to keep yourself safe in a bushfire or flood event. Recovery efforts are now well underway, and although the past week has been challenging, our community’s resilience continues to be at the forefront. As we inch closer to the summer months, we will continue with our vital preparedness work, bringing together agencies and the community to be as prepared as we can for the months ahead.
Cr Ian Bye, Mayor of Wellington Shire Council