Cooma declared natural disaster area

Cooma-Monaro Shire Council is one of 37 Local Government Areas declared a natural disaster last week after bush fires burned more than 12,000 hectares of bush and grass land in the area.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced last week a range of assistance grants that would be available to those affected by the bushfires.

Mayor Dean Lynch said council had been helping people in a liaison capacity during the week.

"We have had people come in to find out what to do and we have been directing them to the right agencies," Cr Lynch said.

He said people could contact council to find out where to go to get assistance.

Council had been helping in many ways with staff assisting at the emergency operations centre at Polo Flat, and council graders being used to build containment lines.

Cr Lynch said council, through the Local Health and Pest Authority (LHPA), had organised to help one landholder at Carlaminda move his stock after the grass on his property was burnt out.

Cr Lynch said a Section 44 had been declared when the fire started which meant council would be able to recover the costs associated with the fire.

Assistance grants

A range of assistance grants are in the process of being made available including:

* disaster relief grants to eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household items have been destroyed or damaged are available;

* transport freight subsidies of up to 50 per cent on the carriage of livestock and fodder are available to help primary producers to a maximum of $15,000 per annum;

* loans of up to $130,000 are also available (subject to certain eligibility criteria), at a concessional interest rate, for primary producers and small businesses in urgent need;

* grants are also available to councils to help them meet the additional costs of emergency work to restore essential services;

* a special scheme is available to assist sporting clubs in meeting the costs of restoration of essential club facilities that have been damaged or destroyed.

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