Kindee resident still counting the hidden cost of bushfires

Still counting the cost of bushfires

The cost of the recent bushfire emergency is more than just financial and when Kindee man Scott Battle posted about this on Facebook, he got a huge response.

During 10 days in November,Scott had to evacuate his home, along with his frightened 14-year-old daughter who lives with him part-time, as the bushfires threatened.

He says he remains very grateful that his home still stands, but says he suffered nonetheless.

"Without taking away from anyone that's suffering severe and direct loss, and this needs to be very clear, it's dawned on me how this crisis has been financially expensive for me, and completely mentally and emotionally draining.

"Not knowing what was going to happen minute by minute, living with constant threat and fear has been a real challenge. I can only assume it's the case for many others," he said.

Scott spent large unplanned amounts of money on fuel for driving to evacuate, protect his house, run a generator, mowers, power garden equipment and trips to dispose of rubbish.

He had to buy a lot of extra hoses, fittings and a water pressure pump.

He ran his air conditioning around the clock for a month due to smoke, and used his dryer because he couldn't hang out his washing, so his electricity bill will rise. He also used his mobile like never before.

"I'm not whinging but it's made me realise there's been extra bills and costs and many people must be effected similarly, and more so. People have had to have time off work, buy water, stock feed and equipment to defend their lives and property. The list goes on.

"I'm lucky, I was able to save a little each week all year for Christmas so I could call on that during this time. I've also got family and friends who I can get help from. Not everyone is so blessed."

Mr Battle saw a counsellor to help him process everything that happened, including his daughter's fears that they might all die, their home, pets and possessions could be wiped out at any moment, which was a real possibility.

"My point is that this type of scenario doesn't necessarily qualify for the emergency funding or resources being provided. I was lucky because I was already seeing a counsellor about something else," he added.

He tried to lodge a claim with his insurance company for smoke damage. He'd steam-cleaned his carpets, curtains, mattresses etc and they still stank because a lot of smoke came through the floorboards.

"My insurer said I'd be covered for this if any fire had crossed inside my boundaries or we had any sort of fire within the house. I cheekily said: 'So if a box of tissues caught alight accidentally and I was fortunate to put it out, I'd be able to claim successfully?' Yes, technically that's correct was the reply! Crazy!"

However Scott has some good news. A woman from Bellangry, who lost everything to the fires, saw his Facebook post and messaged him. She and her husband offered to come spend a day or two to help me defend against the fires and clean up afterwards.

"I couldn't believe it, such genuine care and generosity, to a complete stranger, who was so very lucky compared to her and her family. This is the very best of people and the best of our beautiful Hastings Valley," he said.

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT AFTER BUSHFIRES:

Local residents experiencing mild to moderate mental health concerns should call Healthy Minds on 1300 160 339 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Free face-to-face counselling services with a mental health practitioner, such as a psychologist or mental health social worker, will provide people with strategies and techniques to manage their mental health. Healthy Minds services are available across the North Coast of NSW.

NewAccess is an early intervention mental health program for persons 16 years and over. The program includes six free sessions with an experienced NewAccess coach, phone or face-to-face options are available. Call 1800 010 630 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Please note that Healthy Minds and NewAccess are not crisis services. If you require immediate support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. For children under 12 years, call the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

In an emergency, please call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

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