Large-scale bushfire clean-up to begin in Wollondilly

Photo: Rachel Mounsey
Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Official bushfire clean-up work is set to begin in Wollondilly after months of hard work by residents and volunteers.

Contractor Laing O'Rourke will soon begin clearing debris from residential and eligible small business properties in the shire that were damaged or destroyed by bushfire, as part of the NSW Government and Commonwealth funded clean-up program.

Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith said residents will see crews setting up equipment and inspecting properties, with clearing work commencing from Monday, March 30 onwards.

He said COVID-19 health and safety precautions are being taken, including social distancing during site visits, which will allow clean-up work to continue.

"Typically, it takes around two days for crews to clear debris from one property, dependent on weather and conditions, and longer for properties where there are hazardous materials such as asbestos," Mr Smith said.

"The clean-up will remove debris that is stopping people from rebuilding on their property, such as concrete slabs, damaged driveways, dangerous trees or outbuildings near to primary residences and hazardous materials.

"Laing O'Rourke staff will discuss with residents the specifics of how their property will be cleared, including details such as how any personal items located during the clean-up should be handled and what structures should be retained or removed."

Residents could see heavy machinery working between 7am-5pm on weekdays and between 8am and 4pm on weekends, which may cause some traffic delays as crews move from property to property.

The bushfire crisis that gripped Australia in the latter half of 2019 through to early 2020 has had a devastating impact on communities around Australia.

The Green Wattle Creek fire caused extensive damage across the shire including 15 homes destroyed and 16 homes damaged, eight facilities destroyed and three damaged, 66 outbuildings destroyed and 45 damaged.

More than 270 rural landholders were affected.

Mr Smith welcomed the statement by Deputy Premier and minister responsible for disaster recovery John Barilaro who said that with state government covering the cost of clean-up means insured owners will have more funds to devote to rebuilding and uninsured owners will not be left out of pocket.

"I know the faster we can clean-up, the sooner communities can start rebuilding and get on with their lives. I hope that clearing the debris away so that it is not a constant reminder will help [Wollondilly] commence the healing process," Mr Smith said.

"If you have already registered for the clean-up program, you don't need to do anything more, and there is still time for owners of eligible properties to sign up if they have not already done so by calling Service NSW on 13 77 88."

Residents with questions about the clean-up work can contact Laing O'Rourke by calling 1800 007 539.