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Help at hand for fire victims

Tuesday 7 January 2020
A bushfire relief centre has been opened at the Albury Entertainment Centre (AEC), with team members from AlburyCity and the NSW Department of Communities and Justice on hand to help people displaced by the fires.

The AEC centre will replace a similar operation at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre which helped more than 250 people over the weekend.

People in need of help can call into the Elizabeth Room at the AEC between 9 am and 5 pm for food, water, advice on accommodation options or general support.

Registration facilities will also be provided so that travellers can be sure their loved ones will be advised that they’re safe.

Meanwhile, AlburyCity Mayor Kevin Mack has thanked the border community for its generosity and strength of spirit as the crisis continues.

Cr Mack said it was heartening to see local people supporting family, friends and neighbours in nearby shires, whether through volunteering at the fire front, making donations, taking in displaced families or simply by lending a sympathetic ear to those in need.

“Although we’re shrouded in hazardous smoke here in Albury-Wodonga, we know the situation is unimaginably worse for our friends in the path of the fires, where each day can present a threat to lives and homes,” he said.

“One of the great things about Australians is how we pull together in a time of crisis and the outpouring of support from our community to those at risk shows just how supportive and close-knit our wider regional community is.”

While the mild conditions this week have provided a much-needed respite, a forecast for dangerous conditions on Friday shows that the danger is a long way from over.

Cr Mack thanked those people who’ve donated food, clothing and other goods for fire victims but said the sheer volume of donations made it difficult to distribute the goods, and he asked people to instead make cash donations to the Red Cross or other approved agencies.   
Meanwhile, the air quality in Albury-Wodonga remains a significant public health risk and Cr Mack has urged people – especially those with respiratory problems – to heed health alerts and stay indoors where possible.

The poor visibility caused by the smoke continues to affect flights to and from Albury Airport but the airport team is working closely with airlines to ensure services return to normal as soon as the situation eases.

“It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of such a massive disaster but we’re all doing our part to help and anyone who needs our help will be sure to receive when they visit the relief centre,” Cr Mack said.

“There’s a long road ahead but I know we’ll continue to be there for each other, not only while the emergency lasts but also in the long term as our region works to recover from this terrible situation.”

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