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Local focus in new plan to aid Fitzroy Crossing flood recovery

David Prestipino -

A new plan for locally-led flood recovery efforts has been unveiled by the WA government, a year after the Kimberley floods devastated communities across the region.

The Kimberley Floods State Recovery and Resilience Plan was released this week after engagement and consultation over 12 months with flood-affected individuals and groups.

The new framework provides an assessment and guide for state-supported, locally-led recovery efforts, advising the government on requirements and implementation strategies to help communities and businesses recover from the one-in-100-year floods.

Five recovery areas guided by the National Principles for Disaster Recovery were identified: country and culture, people and community, infrastructure and built environment, economic, and environment and heritage.

Federal Emergency Management minister, Murray Watt, said communities across the Kimberley had shown "grit and determination" to withstand and recover from the disaster.

WA Emergency Services minister, Stephen Dawson, acknowledged the "leadership and resilience" of communities and the ongoing work required in the next year to rebuild them.

He said 14 co-funded programs by the Federal and WA Governments had helped residents, businesses and local governments combat a range of issues and rebuild and recover.

"We've seen 14 bespoke grants - funding opportunities - to help those affected, be they small businesses, pastoralists, Aboriginal organisations," Mr Dawson said.

"Last year we saw wet weather like never before, and I'm pleased at the efforts done to get people back into homes and businesses reopened."

A major housing milestone last month saw the majority of families in the Fitzroy Valley communities of Bungardi, Darlngunaya, Burawa, Fitzroy Crossing, Karnparmi, Loanbun and Muludja - whose government-owned and managed homes were flood damaged in January - moved into newly-installed temporary accommodation units on the eve of Christmas.

The units each have two modules connected by a central verandah to suit family living, are fully furnished and built at a height to withstand similar flood levels witnessed last year.

Kimberley MLA, Divina D'Anna, said the delivery of the 47 accommodation units would bring great relief to families while they waited for their damaged homes to be repaired or rebuilt.

"Now they have a base they can call home just in time for the holidays," she said.

Construction of the new Fitzroy River Bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule, marking the official reconnection of the East and West Kimberley after the old Fitzroy River Bridge was irreparably damaged.

A mental health and social support service program has successfully activated and is supporting the recovery of people across the region and boosting community resilience.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Kimberley Superintendent, Leon Gardiner, said recovery personnel had begun meeting communities in October to help them manage post-traumatic stress disorder as the 2024 wet season approached.

"We're having those conversations with community around what to expect, what the forecast looks like, how best they can prepare themselves and what to do when we do have those weather events," he told the ABC.

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