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Surf Life Saving NSW has opened two of its surf clubs on the NSW Far South Coast as community recovery hubs to support people affected by the recent bushfires in the area.

Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club and Broulee Surf Life Saving Club have both been activated as community hubs.

Batemans Bay SLSC, which was also an evacuation centre during the bushfires, is cooking meals, handing out groceries, providing shower and laundry facilities, free WiFi and a place to charge mobile devices for members of the community in need.

Broulee SLSC is handing out food, drinks, toiletries, groceries, clothing and some medical supplies.

Batemans Bay SLSC Club Captain Anthony Bellette said there had been a constant stream of people coming through the Batemans Bay club since it opened its doors as a community hub.

“We’ve opened the club to the community. We have people in our kitchens cooking food and baking scones. We’re handing out groceries and people can use our facilities to have a shower,” said Anthony Bellette.

“We had over 90 people waiting for us to open the doors this morning and we’ve had a constant stream of around 50 people all day. People are using the club as a place to connect, talk and to try and come to terms with what’s happened.

“Mobile phone networks are still down so the NBN has set up a free wireless internet at the club so people can contact friends and family. We also have power boards here so people can charge their phones and run their laptops,” Bellette said.

Many surf clubs on the Far South Coast became evacuation centres as bushfires swept through the region on New Year’s Eve. At one point 5,000 people sought refuge at Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club and more than 1,200 people were evacuated to Batemans Bay SLSC at Malua Bay.

Now the bushfires have passed and the recovery operation has begun, safe, accessible community centres, like surf clubs, are being used in the emergency response as distribution centres for essential items.

NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, was among the residents of Malua Bay who sheltered at Batemans Bay Surf Club as bushfires descended on the area. He has been assisting the club’s lifesavers, in a personal capacity, to establish a community hub and has been helping to unload critical supplies of food, water and medical items as they arrive by truck from Sydney.

Surf Life Saving NSW is encouraging the community to assist with the bushfire emergency relief response by donating money rather than gifts of food, water and clothing because the transportation, storage and distribution of these goods is becoming problematic.

Many beaches on the Far South Coast will remain closed this weekend due to the bushfire recovery operation. Beach closures include; Narooma, Dalmeny, Tuross Head, Moruya, Broulee, Malua Bay and Surf Beach. Aslings Beach - Eden, in the Bega regio,n will also be closed.

Beachgoers are encouraged to check for beach closure information.


Friday 10 January 2020