What a tumultuous start to the year!
Just a fortnight after our northern villages came under bush fire attack, late last year our southern villages copped a similar fate when the Currowan fire jumped the Shoalhaven River.
The magnitude of this bush fire crisis cannot be understated.
Across our shire dozens of houses and buildings have been lost, hundreds of people displaced and our ecosystem dealt a heavy blow.
Worse yet were the tragic deaths of RFS volunteers Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer who died protecting properties in Buxton. Our thoughts are with their family, friends and fellow brigade members.
Council teams have been busy inspecting critical council infrastructure including roads and bridges, maintaining water supplies for fire-fighting purposes, assessing dangerous trees and meeting with bush-fire affected residents to distribute much needed financial help.
We've also been in constant discussions with our State and Federal Members and their various departments such as the Office of Emergency Management, Local Land Services, Department of Human Services and Australian Defence Force to discuss the best way to pool resources, coordinate services and distribute government funding.
Council has also set up a dedicated Bush Fire Recovery phone line that is being manned by staff whose sole focus is to help and provide advice to bush fire affected residents.
In addition a Mayoral Relief Fund has been set up to distribute much needed financial support to local residents directly affected by these terrible fires.
Information on how to donate to this fund and how to apply for assistance can be found on council's website at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au or via the dedicated Bush Fire Recovery phone line on 1800 316 500.
There's still a long way to go and I'm mindful that active fires still threaten our shire, however I've been overwhelmed by the generosity, resilience and strength I've witnessed first-hand across our shire.
The healing and recovery will take time, but together we will move forward and overcome these difficult days.