The rebuild begins

The rebuild begins

Lakes Entrance, like many East Gippsland towns, is on its knees as bushfires wreak havoc across the region, decimating tourism numbers and a typical summer business trade.

Community members have put out the call to visitors to return, but also to locals to support their waning community by shopping local, be it, food, drink or retail.

The outcome of bushfire season appears grim for the seaside town, despite it being in the clear over the past 10 days from any impending danger.

Lakes Entrance Action Development Association (LEADA) president, Bruce Hurley, said the bushfire threat had caused the loss of millions of dollars to businesses and residents.

“We all know that Lakes Entrance is a strong community, which is resilient and compassionate,” Mr Hurley said.

“In 2019 the town pulled together to support LEADA in providing a strong and united voice for the town and this spirit was getting results for Lakes Entrance.

“LEADA will build on these strengths during the recovery phase. Coming out of these tragedies, opportunities will present as governments (federal, state and local) and the goodwill of Australians seek ways to help.”

LEADA and the Lakes Entrance Business and Tourism Association (LEBTA) met with East Gippsland Shire councillor and Lakes Entrance local, Dick Ellis, last Wednesday to discuss ways council can assist in the rebuild.

Last Thursday LEADA held a special committee meeting to discuss and plan for recovery after the fires.

Representatives from Lions, Rotary and LEBTA were invited to attend and Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, joined to offer his thoughts.

“Mr Chester outlined the potential funding opportunities that exist and his intention to place an initial bid for infrastructure developments for Lakes Entrance,” Mr Hurley said.

“He was seeking a quick response from the community to assist him in pursuing funding as early as possible.”

The main matters discussed were:

  • Marketing campaign to bring tourists back to the town, led by LEBTA;
  • Ways to provide immediate assistance to businesses, including an awareness of government subsidies and seeking rent relief from landlords in 2020;
  • Events to draw people together and attract people back to Lakes possibly Australia Day;
  • Learning how to improve the response of this fire emergency to ensure Lakes Entrance is better prepared and coordinated in the future;
  • A priority list of infrastructure projects that will help the town recover.

IMAGE: Locals, Jess, Mason (1), Amelia (3) and Jeremy Snell, were enjoying coffee and cake at Salty Groms Café on Saturday as the town’s businesses showed they are open for business amid the ongoing bushfire threat. Lakes is one of many towns to suffer significantly due to the fires with the typical summer tourism trade effectively decimated. K26-33