Father and son’s struggles to rebuild after blaze
After having his Cooroibah property wiped out by a raging bush fire which threatened the life of his son, Noosa electrician Brian Williams feels he has hit a brick wall when it comes to rebuilding his life.
Mr Williams said he and his son Beau, who was in year 12 at the time of the fire late last year, feel left on their own “with the mammoth task of trying to get your life back on track”.
This was after his son was left to run for his life from the fire that engulfed their Lake Cooroibah Rd home, making a dash for the nearby lake shore.
“It doesn’t get any easier as it’s a long road to recovery,” Mr Williams said.
“I try talking to my son who is angry, has never ever been angry, but now he is not in his own bed, bedroom, all his personal belongings … he’s confused and asking questions ‘why me, why us, what have we done to deserve this?’
“You start with nothing, no clothes, no documents, no home to go back to, nothing, just numb,” he said.
Mr Williams said they feel like they have been left alone with a mess to clean up these past eight months, with none of the disaster authorities coming to talk with them and ask how they are doing.
“You sift through the mess that’s covered with black carbon on everything you touch,” he said.
“You ask yourself ‘why am I here?’ and sink back into the grim reality of why you are in this foreign place.
“There was help and now everything is forgotten, a pandemic even more to deal with,” Mr Williams said.
He said they are still renting and have had to move three times now as they try to short-term let while hoping to move back onto our property of which is still without water and sewerage.
“Trying to move on and rebuild isn’t any easier, first of all we have had to clean up the mess and remove burned trees that have cost us thousands of dollars,” he said.
“Energex have recently restored power to the site only after we had to get trees removed for them to be able to run new power lines to the property.
“We are trying to get a new sewer system installed but (Noosa) council are being difficult and asking us for plumbing plans for the property that I did have, but now have gone up in smoke.”
Mr Williams said his property is 40 years old and ironically council records of the documents he needs were reportedly destroyed in a council fire.
“Council has no records and wants me to now get someone to approve my property for plumbing and building at my cost,” he said.
He said for the past five years he has been trying to obtain approvals from council for proposed small resort on his property.
Right now he would settle for the all clear from council just to rebuild his home so he can stop renting.
“You would thing that under the circumstances they (council) will bend over backwards to help, but no,” he said.
“Other councils in New South Wales and Victoria have bent over backwards to help by giving them (fire victims) rates relief, cleaning up properties, supplying fully furnished containers with the help of local government, supplying council machinery for cleaning properties and the list goes on,” Mr Williams said.
He said to date the Noosa Council has only supplied a few bins for cleaning up “and that’s it”.
Noosa Council’s building and plumbing manager Allan Hazell said council officers have spoken to the property owner several times to assist with his rebuild and to guide him through the development approval process.
“Officers have been on site to offer advice and council has agreed to waive fees and charges to rebuild existing approved buildings and plumbing works that meet legislative requirements,” he said.
“This is what we have done for other fire-affected residents in the area and we will continue to assist where we can.”
Mr Hazell said the previous buildings destroyed in the fire, were illegal structures, which had no council plumbing or building approvals.
“The site currently has approval for one storage shed under the building permit from 1995,” he said.
“It’s important to ensure all new structures comply with the necessary requirements and we have offered our support and advice on rebuilding the existing approved structures,” Mr Hazell said.
Council files indicate that no plumbing approval for the shed or fixtures within shed and waste water system had been issued.
“We require new plans of the work to be undertaken to help us provide the necessary approvals,” Mr Hazell said.