Shire in the thick of it

YARRA Range Shire council last week turned its chambers into a bushfire control centre.
A Metropolitan Emergency Co-ordination Centre was set up for police, the Salvation Army, shire rangers and health and building authorities to co-ordinate aspects of the bushfire disaster in the Yarra Ranges.
More than 50 shire staff have been volunteering at the MECC since Saturday 7 February.
Shire resource officer Leanne Manfre has been handling calls asking for and offering assistance. On Monday alone the shire took more than 17,500 phone calls, she said.
“I’ve taken a few calls from people who have lost their home and they’re looking for accommodation,” Mrs Manfre said.
“We have other people wanting to donate their time, services, abilities and support. I had a Critical Incident Stress Management Councillor calling wanting to fly over from New South Wales to help.”
Humans aren’t the only ones being taken care of from the centre with ranger Kerry Rollins ensuring that wild, domestic and farming animals affected by the bushfires are being cared for.
“Heaps of people affected by the fires want to hang on to their animals. Many animals lost their homes, too, in the fires,” Ms Rollins said.
“We make sure that when they get to the emergency relief centres there is food and bedding for the animals as well.”
Ms Rollins has also been co-ordinating food donations and housing for small and larger animals such as horses and livestock.
Residents requiring hay, stock feed, fencing, water troughs and temporary agistments can phone 9294 6344. Donations of these supplies can also be made on this number.
Residents who are able to return to their properties can organise a property assessment and inspection by phoning 9294 6133 or 9294 6415.
Copies of construction plans of any property affected by the bushfires, dating back to the mid 1960s, will be available free of charge to owners and their insurers to help support the rebuilding process.
To access these services contact the building department on 9294 6333.