• Resources are scarce in Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast following the bushfires. (Submitted)Source: Submitted
First Nations people left without access to power, clean water and medication following devastating fires that raged across two states.
By
Shahni Wellington

Source:
NITV News
7 Jan 2020 - 4:44 PM  UPDATED 7 Jan 2020 - 4:45 PM

Indigenous communities along the New South Wales south coast continue to recover from the devastation caused from multiple bushfires that have raged across the region for the past week.

On Monday, authorities said more than 30,000 residents continue to experience power outage in the south coast region, and it is expected to remain that way for up to a week longer.

Coastal towns including Narooma, Manyana, Batemans Bay, Mogo and Nowra were ravaged by the fires, while some residents also experienced a fierce, fire-generated thunderstorm over the Currowan fire in the Shoalhaven.

There are still multiple road closures affecting the region, with locals experiencing empty grocery shelves and a lack of resources.

On Tuesday, there was no emergency or watch and act level bushfires in New South Wales, but 130 fires continued to burn across the state.

Donations have been flooding in to help affected communities during a brief respite in extreme conditions, with a forecast return to temperatures close to 40 degrees on Friday.

How a climate change study from 12 years ago warned of this horror bushfire season
Twelve years ago, economist Ross Garnaut led an independent study of the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy.

Over the weekend, Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) began to receive online grocery donations that included essentials items such as bottled water, petrol vouchers, baby formula and tinned food.

CEO of Illawarra AMS, Jingili and Larrakia man Kane Ellis, says the response from the public has been huge.

“It's just been amazing. We only put it out on social media on Sunday evening and Monday morning we were flooded with a whole heap of donations, it's just been constant the whole time,” he said.

By Tuesday, the campaigners had asked people to stop donating as they had become overwhelmed.

The donation drive has partnered with local south coast organisations like Waminda, a women’s health service in Nowra, to help distribute the goods to communities.

Mr Ellis said the groceries would directly assist Indigenous families who can no longer access the basic necessities.

“Some people have lost everything, some people lost their houses and they've just got the clothes on their back, some people still don't have power at the moment… Others are running really low in food and clean drinking water.

“From our point of view, the medical services area, we need to be looking at medications for our chronic disease clients,” said Mr Ellis.

“People don’t have access to insulin or their blood pressure medications so we’re working on that also.”

Since New Years Eve, some towns have been left in the dark with telecommunications and power down.

Mr Ellis said the bushfires will have an on-going effect on mental health.

“Communities have actually been cut off from the outside world.

“We've got to make sure we manage that trauma after, really support the people down there after this is over,” said Mr Ellis.

Co-cordinator of the drive, Yuin woman Marlene Longbottom, said the region is still trying to gauge the extent of the damage.

"Community is understandably stressed and we’re just getting together and trying to support one another as best we can," she said.

"The Indigenous community is trying to come to terms with things and figure out what the best approach to responding to the situation is."

In New South Wales, the death toll from the blaze sits at 20 people dead with three people still missing.

Almost 5 million hectares have burned and 1,588 homes have been destroyed this fire season.

However, the number of homes lost is expected to rise significantly over coming weeks.

'All hell broke loose': Mogo Aboriginal community devastated by bushfire
Five members of Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council have been left homeless and terrified after their houses went up in flames, along with the Council's building.