By Taylar Amonini
Five months after a massive bushfire destroyed most of their town, residents of Yarloop say the clean-up has stalled and they are living in turmoil.
In January, more than 160 homes were destroyed, the area was closed off and the state government took over the clean-up of the town.
However, despite the $12-million allocated to the project very little progress appears to have been made.
Yarloop residents say contractors have been banned from clearing out homes and businesses due to restrictions appointed by the state government’s clean-up program.
“I had a builder all ready to go several weeks before ANZAC Day and I asked if I could go ahead and do it and was told I’d be stopped, ” says homeowner Marion Whitecross.
“I can’t even get an electrician in to fix the hot water.”
Residents question the lack of urgency in the clean-up program and the five month timeline to completion they were quoted.
“Progress is painfully slow,” says outspoken homeowner, Anthony Toop.
“If it hadn’t been for the ANZAC Day service, the clean-up of the town centre would not have happened.”
To add to residents’ worries, they say rates are still being charged despite them not being able to live in their homes and the lack of upkeep.
“If we’re going to pay rates we demand service, we demand the town upkeep to be maintained; our verges aren’t even being mowed at the moment.”
Former WA Governor Ken Michael has been appointed as the State Recovery Controller to deal with the aftermath of the fire, and says the process is a very complicated one.
“Foremost in the planning is the significant contamination in Yarloop and the health and safety risk this poses to the local residents,” says Department of the Premier and Cabinet spokesperson Jean Perkins.
Asbestos discovery has been a point of debate among the community, with many residents sceptical about the severity of the issue.
“If they were so worried about asbestos, why didn’t they take out the sand and materials? It’s still sitting there in bags,” says resident Trish Toop.
Take a quick tour of Yarloop here.