A disaster recovery expert has described the pace of the Tathra community’s recovery from the March bushfire tragedy as “unique”.
People did tell me that the ones coming to the community meetings are those doing okay, but some are finding it hard to get out of bed or go to work.Australian Red Cross emergency services regional officer Sandra Arnold
Wollongong-based Australian Red Cross emergency services regional officer Sandra Arnold said she had “never seen rebuilding happen this fast”, in the eight months since fire destroyed more than 60 homes.
“People in Tathra said they were getting on with it. They are an amazing community,” she said.
“Although some people spoke to us about living in caravans and some people were feeling frustrated.
“People did tell me that the ones coming to the community meetings are those doing okay, but some are finding it hard to get out of bed or go to work.
“It does take time to recover, but I found the community is doing some wonderful things which are keeping them together,” she said.
Ms Arnold said communities more often than not become “divided” as people “lash out at those closest to them” when overwhelmed with frustrations.
“I actually talk about Tathra with other communities, they are quite unique,” she said.
Ms Arnold and project recovery worker Linda Mayo visited the region last week to meet with the Tathra and Bemboka communities, as well as bushfire recovery and support workers.
Ms Arnold said she noticed anxiety levels rise as weather conditions quickly became more extreme.
On Friday the mercury rose from 16.4 degrees at 6.30am to 30.1 degrees at 8.55am, including a jump of 11 degrees in just 24 minutes before 7am.
“There was a certain amount of concern and worry,” she said.
“You could feel the anxiety rise which means people’s sense of safety has not arrived.”
She said the Bemboka community is “on edge” with summer yet to arrive and fire still burning at Yankees Gap.
“Everyone is on their own individual journey, and people need to take time to look after themselves,’ Ms Arnold said.
“It is the decisions we make in a rush we sometimes regret.”