East Central landscape bush risk assessment drives campaign…
BLACK Saturday 2009 should have been a wake-up call for the communities linked by the uppermost reaches of the Yarra River.
It was one hell of a ‘scenario’ that saw Marysville, Kinglake and Steels Creek decimated, resulting in huge and tragic loss of life. So why, five years on, is there a need to target residents in Warburton and neighbouring Reefton, East Warburton, McMahon’s Creek and Big Pats Creek with a campaign to drill home the reality that, for a whole lot of reasons, Warburton needs to wake up.
The driver that has Yarra Ranges Council, the CFA and DEPI pushing for a ‘Wake Up Warburton’ campaign is a DEPI (Department of Environment and Primary Industry) bushfire risk assessment of the East Central landscape.
The Warburton Valley Bushfire Catchment, one of 12 catchments from Seymour and Eildon down to Wilsons Promontory, contains the highest risk to life and property, according to PHOENIX Rapidfire modelling which works on a number of factors including proximity to forest, fuel load levels and fire behaviour in worst-case bushfire weather.
High risk towns extend from Reefton down to Seville East and across to Healesville and Powelltown, and, all up, this catchment represents almost 28 per cent of that risk.
By comparison, Warrandyte contains 1 per cent, the Dandenongs between 2 and 3 per cent.
So, again, why Wake Up Warburton? Apart from the fact that PHOENIX simulations show that impact by a potentially high-consequence bushfire at some time is almost certain.
Some of the specific concerns are a
bout the geography, one narrow road as an escape route, poor internet and mobile service and, in some areas, poor access to ABC radio.
Then there is apathy/complacency – a lack of community engagement and a perception that many people do not have an active fire plan.
In October last year, CFA’s Phil Cuthbert told a community meeting too many people had a ‘wait and see’ approach.
“We believe that 80 per cent of the community has a wait and see mentality- that is they won’t do anything that they might have planned until they see the first fire truck go past,” he said.
Kevin Bargar is a member of the Warburton Emergency Planning Group that hosted the meeting.
The WEPG formed two years ago with support from Yarra Ranges Council with a broad charter of helping formulate plans for possible emergencies affecting Warburton.
Fire, has obviously been a focus for the five-member WEPG team, but Mr Bargar admits they need more people attending information sessions as a first step.
Over summer, the Mail will work together with WEPG, Yarra Ranges Council, the CFA and other government and emergency service organisations to ‘Wake Up Warby’.
It’s a campaign that aims to engage the Warburton and neighbouring communities, to inform and empower people to take responsibility for their own destiny.
We’ll also look at issues such as communication, information networks – what is happening with Black Spot funding for better mobile services, and the ABC relay on top of Mount Victoria?
We’ll look at fire refuges and Places of Last Resort.
We’ll look at how Warrandyte, another high-risk town, has successfully engaged its community.
What else do we need to cover?
Tell us your concerns. Tell us your plans. Tell us your frustrations and tell us how you would “Wake Up Warby”.
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