In many areas, the coronavirus lockdown took hold mere weeks after the bushfire fallout was being dealt with. Towns that are heavily dependant on tourism were looking towards holidaymaker revenue as a large part of their rebuilding efforts. The travel restrictions brought on by the COVID pandemic have rendered these plans void for the time being.
One such town is Mogo in News South Wales where plans were underway to rebuild and reopen businesses as the lockdown was announced.
Residents Lorena and Gaspar Granados, who lost their leatherwares business in the blaze, had big plans to reopen their store for the Easter holidays. They told the BBC of the effect the pandemic has had on their plans to rebuild.
“It’s heartbreaking and soul-destroying,” Lorena Granados told the BBC. “Our motivation went from a hundred to nothing. We invested money in stock and we had every hope that we were going to have an extremely busy Easter. We weren’t expecting to be stopped in our tracks so early in our recovery process.”
“Many of us have lost homes and businesses,” she said, “but I do feel that we’ve been forgotten about”.
Disaster upon disaster
Mogo is part of Eurobodalla Shire Council where close to 500 homes were destroyed in the bushfires. The Business Council of Australia had plans to assist local businesses after the fires, but all non-essential services were ordered to close because of the lockdown. As much of the area’s revenue comes from tourism, the trade restrictions and border closures have been the second of two hard blows to the local economy.
“This has slowed everything down and it actually increased the pain,” another local, Peter Williams, told the publication. Williams and his wife lost both their house and their pottery business for the fires.
“Everything has been delayed. The workers had to be more careful,” said Williams. “We were really looking for a quick clean-up so we could psychologically start afresh and build our lives again.”