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"There's not a disaster in the world that people have not recovered from - it's just a matter of timing."
So says newly appointed Recovery Coordinator for Southern NSW Dick Adams.
LIVE UPDATES: Latest on the bushfire crisis, click here
Mr Adams was in the Bega Valley this week, visiting several of the areas and businesses devastated by the ongoing bushfires.
Such is the scope of this crisis, the retired deputy police commissioner has been tasked with overseeing recovery efforts in a region spanning southern Sydney to the Victorian border and west to the Snowy Mountains, Tumut and Batlow.
It takes in nine separate local government areas and countless burnt dwellings, businesses and thousands of hectares of scorched landscape.
Since being appointed to the role by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on January 3, Mr Adams has been speaking with local councils, mayors and community groups - "not to come in and tell you 'this is what you need', but ask what we can do to help you".
"Local government is the key to recovery in their areas,"he said.
"I've not met anyone in the five council areas we've visited so far that is putting up any barriers to people getting the services they need.
"I also compliment the local members and federal members working for their communities. I've seen a lot of goodwill and it's a truly bipartisan approach."
On his way to sit down with Australian Community Media for a quick briefing over coffee, Mr Adams was approached by a Brogo man, Phil, who had lost everything in the fire.
"Phil's story is one of thousands we want to hear.
"My job is to knock down any roadblocks between government services and people like Phil who are in need of them."
Key to recovery efforts is assessing the impact of the bushfires and where assistance is required in the immediate term.
"One of the challenges is that many of these areas are still active firegrounds, there are roads closed and they are still dangerous,"Mr Adams said.
Despite that, Mr Adams said nearly 12,000 property assessments have already been done in southern NSW since New Year's Eve. "We just ask people to be patient."
Among the key concerns for Mr Adams and his team is the economic impact and how to empower communities to rebuild.
"Most of these areas have lost all their holiday trade, and that's not just tourism but small businesses etc.
"Eden has lost their mill, Mt Selwyn has lost their whole resort, softwood plantations in Tumut, dairy in Bega, apple orchards in Batlow...
"What we've found, is when bushfire is impacting these areas and people are evacuated out, some may not return. We need to work to get people back.
"Lot of families have alignments to an area - Canberra people head to Batemans Bay for example.
"People will identify with those towns and come back. We need an injection of people who wouldn't normally visit.
"But there's no silver bullet."
READ MORE: Cobargo community looking after its own
Among the communities already visited by Mr Adams' team in only his first week on the job was Nerrigundah, inland from Bodalla in the Eurobodalla Shire.
The locality was almost completely destroyed by the Badja Forest Road fire and one man was killed.
Mr Adams said 90 per cent of the dwellings there were destroyed and the entire community sheltered in the local fire shed just to survive.
There's no water and no power but the people have elected to remain.
"We know people, especially in these regions with lots of outlying communities, aren't always going to come in to the major centres to access services,"Mr Adams said.
"So we work to get outreach services to them - whether that be disaster welfare, insurance company representation, government services like Centrelink.
"It's all about us asking 'how can we help you?'
"Recovery all comes from the community. It will be small bites at a time and small wins that build confidence and impetus.
"And ideally the community will take over from us."
For NSW Office of Emergency Management resources (evacuation centres, disaster welfare assistance points etc), click here
If you have been impacted by the bushfires and require emergency support, please contact the Disaster Welfare Line on 1800 018 444.
In an emergency call Triple-Zero (000)
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