After emergencies

Scotsburn Fire Game with community recovery committee members

After an emergency, contacting Council is often the best way to get help and answers to your questions. We have planners, building surveyors, and environmental health staff who can assist with queries specific to your situation.

Following a significant emergency event, you may be without power for days, or access to or from your home could be cut off.

The first 72 hours are usually the most crucial. It’s during this time that services will be inundated with requests for help. This is one of the many reasons why it’s essential to have a comprehensive plan in place.

Various government agencies provide a range of assistance, however being self-sufficient, prepared, and organised will all help you with a speedy recovery.

What Council does after an emergency

After the emergency event, Council moves from the relief stage into the recovery stage, where we aim to assist by supporting impacted community. For all emergency events, even if the event has impacted only a single home, Council will assist affected community members.

The nature of recovery will vary according to the emergency and can take many different forms. In a high level situation where whole communities are impacted, Council may establish an Emergency Recovery Centre. This could be a point of information, all the way through to providing support to find medium or longer-term accommodation. A variety of agencies and organisations may operate out of Council’s Emergency Recovery Centre and offer a range of programs and support to the community.

Looking after yourself after an emergency


It is important to ensure your health and the health of those around you is in check.

Your mental health could be affected, and it's important to look after yourself. Some key resources could be using the Smiling Mind app, attending community meetings, getting referrals to community health organisations, talking to your doctor, or chatting with a friend.

All people can suffer heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Pay particular attention to older people, children, babies and expectant mothers in hot conditions.

The longer an emergency lasts, the more likely people will suffer from stress. Symptoms will appear either during or after an emergency. People are encouraged to look after themselves and use support to recover.

Here are some links to organisations that can support your health and wellbeing:


Each emergency will trigger different levels of financial assistance and support. The agencies and organisations listed below may provide information relating to financial support available.

Insurance, mortgages and credit, budgeting and financial assistance are all things you will need to consider after an emergency.  The State Government and Centrelink may be able to assist you.


Making early contact with your insurance company is important. Speak with your insurer before authorising any major repairs, and only make minor repairs to ensure its safety. Make an inventory of your lost property, including food, as a result of the emergency. Contact Council if you need assistance from our emergency staff or a building inspector to provide documentation for your insurance company.

Donations and volunteering

During and in the aftermath of an emergency, organisations and community members often wish to donate money, goods, or time, towards the recovery effort. Such donations are incredibly helpful, however the coordination of (particularly large) donations can involve logistic and coordination challenges. Coordination of any physical donations and spontaneous volunteers is conducted through the use of GIVIT and any appeals are organised through the Community Bank appeals process.

In the first instance all donations of goods or offers to assist should be directed to GIVIT. Through the GIVIT website donations can be recorded and distributed to those in need.

Other forms of volunteering are organised through the multiple volunteer agencies that assist during a disaster, such as Victoria State Emergency Service (VicSES), BlazeAid, Disaster Relief Australia. Other key agencies include:

Australian Red Cross - Donate to on-ground emergency response teams.

Disaster Relief Australia - Military veterans, emergency responders and motivated civilians can join and deploy with Disaster Relief Australia on domestic and international disaster operations.

Community Enterprise Foundation - Community Enterprise Foundation and Bendigo Bank lodge appeals to provide support in emergencies.

Victorian Farmers Federation Disaster Relief Fund - VFF accepts donations for farmers impacted by emergencies.


If you cannot stay at your property or with family or friends after an emergency pleasecontact us for assistance. We will be able to help or provide information on short, medium and long term accommodation options.


If your water has been used by fire management agencies, the State Government will replace essential water, and Council can help arrange this.

If your property relies on tanks, you must check whether the water has been contaminated before consuming it. Get the water tested for contamination or check for floating particles or discoloration. Consider installing a first flush diverter - these are available at most hardware stores.

Waste and clean-up

Sandbag disposal guide

Sandbags are used to prevent floodwater from entering homes and other buildings. By blocking the water flow, both the bag and the sand can become contaminated with sewage, pathogens and chemicals from the floodwater.

To find out how to safely dispose of sandbags, visit the EPA website

Asbestos in fire or flood damaged homes and buildings

WorkSafe is providing information to home owners and tenants about the dangers of asbestos-containing materials when cleaning up after an emergency.

After an emergency, home owners and tenants will want to start cleaning up their properties as quickly as possible. It is recommended that you do not start cleaning up your property until you are advised that it is safe to do so by emergency services, utilities companies, or Council. Before starting to clean up your property, consider the following potential hazards:

  • Electrical hazards, such as fallen live power lines or active solar panels.
  • Unstable buildings and structures. These may not be safe to enter or walk over.
  • Disrupted sewerage services which can cause health risks.
  • Building rubble containing hazardous materials, such as Asbestos-containing materials (ACM).

For more information about safely cleaning up, go to

Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are very common in buildings and structures built before 1990. They are commonly found in:

  • walls
  • splash backs
  • vinyl floor coverings
  • roofs

Most ACM found within homes is non-friable (intact or bonded securely), such as cement sheet. When non-friable ACM is in good condition and not disturbed, it normally does not release asbestos fibres into the air. Friable ACM, such as asbestos backing of some vinyl floor coverings can be broken up easily, releasing fibres that can be breathed in. Asbestos becomes a potential risk to health if fibres in the air are inhaled.

For more information about where asbestos can be found in the home go to

During floods building materials, including ACM, can be damaged and become dislodged. The material can be picked up by flood waters and moved from property to property. After a flood, debris including ACM may be found in homes or in community spaces such as parks and ovals. As wet ACM dries it can release airborne asbestos fibres, which can be inhaled.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe’s advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

Call 1300 136 089

You can download an asbestos fact sheet from the WorkSafe website here

Additional assistance

If you want to discuss anything or need more information please contact us.