Indigo’s road to recovery

DISASTER RECOVERY: The fire first broke out in the valley on December 20. Picture: MARK JESSER

THE Indigo Valley has spent six months rebuilding following devastatingbushfires, but on Thursday residents focused onthe mental and emotional recovery.

About 150 people shared a warm mealaround tables atMiddle Indigo Primary School –a location that was saved during December’sinferno.

REBUILD: The fire-ravaged community has spent six months fixing damaged homes, sheds and fences.

The smiles and chatter among old and new friends had a vastly different tone to what was being felt during the recent time of crisis.

For Nicole Rowlings, it brought about a sense of clarity as to how such a thing could have happened right on her doorstep.

“For me, this has been the final step in talking about the fire, I feel like I have debriefed and I am really ready to move forward,” she said.

“I found it was a really good chance o talk about what’s been going on and answer a lot of questions.

“Being really told how it all started exactly, I found that was good to know.

“We were very lucky, we only lost all our fences.

“Butthe community has been really hard hit.”

Gateway Health staff door-knocked houses prior to the evening and were there on the night to provide support.

This type of debrief meeting has been used in fire affected communities across Victoria.

It was facilitated by Emergency Management Victoria senior officer Steve Cameron and had representatives from Parks Victoria, DELWP, Indigo Council, AusNet Services, Victoria Police andthe CFA to help answer questions.

People discussed what they thought went welland what wentbadly as feedback forthe services.

Questions about compensation, fire ignition and movement andthemunicipal fire management plan were raised.

The fire burnedmore than 6700km, claiming fourhomes, 28 sheds,14 cars and 210km of fencing plus stock –but a final cost of damage was still unknown.

Indigo Valley Fire recovery committee member Sue Schultz said it was good to listen to people’s ideas.

“In my zone, three of my neighbours lost their houses and Ijoined because Ididn’t think their problems were being addressed,” she told The Border Mail.

“I think things like even knowledge about how the fire moved were helpful – because many of us were in lock-down for days on our properties, we didn’t always understand what actually took place in the bigger picture.”

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