WHERE’S THE MONEY? Slow rebuild process frustrates fire victim

Separation Creek resident Peter Jacobs searches through the damage at his property after the Wye River-Jamieson Creek fire, which destroyed 116 homes on Christmas Day. Mr Jacobs is disappointed with the recovery process and the lack of help homeowners have received to rebuild and restore businesses.

Separation Creek resident Peter Jacobs searches through the damage at his property after the Wye River-Jamieson Creek fire, which destroyed 116 homes on Christmas Day. Mr Jacobs is disappointed with the recovery process and the lack of help homeowners have received to rebuild and restore businesses.

SEPARATION CREEK resident Peter Jacobs says he’s disappointed with the bushfire recovery process and the lack of support from authorities.

Mr Jacobs said the recovery process from the Christmas Day bushfire had been slow and he had struggled to receive practical help from various levels of government.

He said the Country Fire Authority owed him 30,000 litres of water that the fire authority used to help fight the blaze, but only received the water about three weeks ago.

“I had to go to a council meeting and pose a question to get the water; I was in the red zone, the exclusion zone, and I was not eligible for the 5000 litres they were giving out,” Mr Jacobs said.

“My tanks got burnt and I have had no water in my house since the fire, you’re giving water to every other holiday-house owner and I can’t get 5000 litres and I am in an exclusion zone,” he said.

Mr Jacobs’ only source of income is from accommodation units at his property which he had just spent $150,000 renovating before the Otways fire destroyed 116 homes at Wye River and Separation Creek.

Mr Jacobs has been unable to use the accommodation units because the bushfire destroyed the infrastructure at his property.

He said he went to a seminar set up to give bushfire victims financial advice and research what financial help they could be eligible for.

Mr Jacobs said he met with a mentor during the seminar to discuss the financial help he was eligible for to help his small business.

The State Government has committed $400,000 to assist small business owners with mentoring, advertising and marketing.

“I went to the seminar down at Apollo Bay and I said to my mentor, I need $38,000 so my business can get up and running again,” Mr Jacobs said.

“And he said ‘oh no, we can’t get you that money, we can advertise for you, but there’s not one cent we can give you for that’,” he said.

“I don’t have that money, I’m not insured with my business, the building survived but my infrastructure didn’t,” he said.

“The $400,000 they’re promising is just going to be used for advertising, what I need is actual money to help get going again.”

Mr Jacobs said his fellow small business owners were also feeling disappointed with the lack of help they had received since the fire.

He said as far as he knew only one fire victim had received money from grants and donations.

“There’s only one person that’s got money, I believe, and I don’t know what’s been happening and it’s been a huge criticism from the local residents,” he said.

The Colac Herald has spent weeks attempting to find out how much money the community has raised and which organisations have or will distribute the money.

Fundraising committees and various levels of government have been unable to confirm fundraising tallies or details of distribution with cash failing to reach victims.

More than 50 stores stock the Colac Herald print edition across Colac and district, the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool and Geelong. Pick up your copy today.

Comments are closed.