Hills communities reunite to reinforce post-fire bond

Hills communities reunite to reinforce post-fire bond

Events
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'Reclaim the day' events are being held in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday, to bring communities back together one year on since the bushfires.

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GET TOGETHER: Events are on in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday to mark one year since the Cudlee Creek fire.

GET TOGETHER: Events are on in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday to mark one year since the Cudlee Creek fire.

DECEMBER 20 will remain etched in people's minds as one of the worst bushfire days in this state's history.

But nearly one year on, and both the Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills communities are showing strong signs of recovery, while 'reclaim the day' events are being held on Sunday, including at Lobethal, Mount Torrens, Charleston and Springhead.

Lobethal commemoration service organiser Adam Weinert said the day was a chance to get everyone back together, while also supporting local businesses.

"Everyone came together really tight as a community immediately after the fires, but when COVID-19 stopped that, it hit us hard," he said.

"We want to use the day to celebrate what we have become in terms of resilience and unity and look forward to a bright future."

Mr Weinert lost his own home during the fires, which will be rebuilt in the new year.

"We haven't had the time this year with COVID and trying to run our bulk transport business, while recovering from the trauma," he said.

Many are taking their time, while there will be a few that won't return or rebuild at all. - ALEX ZIMMERMAN

Hills Fire Recovery coordinator Alex Zimmerman said only a handful of homes had been rebuilt, despite 98 dwellings being destroyed in the Cudlee Creek fire.

"Many are taking their time, while there will be a few that won't return or rebuild at all," he said.

Mr Zimmerman said while many towns were in a "fairly good place" in the recovery process, locals seeking services at the Fire Recovery Centre, based in Lobethal, had picked up again.

"There has been quite a bit of anxiety arising as a consequence of the anniversary date, but also with recent extreme weather events and the start of the bushfire season," he said. "We are linking these people into our wellbeing support agencies and mental health clinicians."

Mr Zimmerman said many fire victims were also underinsured, but said "incredible support" from volunteer organisations and all tiers of government had eased some of that burden. This included $10.27 million through 162 payments to primary producers.

"A lot of things have been rebuilt because of that funding," he said.

A strong focus had also been placed on bushfire prevention in rebuilds.

"People have been really keen to attend sessions and workshops we have organised on the best way to rebuild when it comes to bushfire safety," he said.

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"We have also tried to ensure people are better linked with the CFS, particularly farm firefighting units.

"FFUs played a critical role in minimising the losses from the Cudlee Creek fire. But we want FFU users to become more aware of how they should be used safely and how it needs to work in with the CFS."

Gumeracha CFS brigade captain Hans Liedig said FFU registration was important to ensure access, safety and improved communication during a fire.

This was the premise behind an information session held by the Gumeracha CFS brigade on Sunday, where 11 local FFUs were registered with the CFS.

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