Authorities in Australia have begun damage assessment as it experienced relief from the raging bushfires earlier on Sunday. On Saturday, temperatures soared and strong winds fanned fires in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia leading to a dangerous fire flaring up in southeastern Australia.
The bushfires forced thousands to flee and brought flames to the suburban fringes of Sydney. It also killed one man and four firefighters on Saturday. But as the temperature lowered down later on Sunday, and the intensity of blazes reduced. Authorities have now started accessing damage of the wildfires. Officials from the Rural Fire services instructed the residents and others in the New South Wales (NSW) state town of Eden to leave immediately and head north, in case they did not have a bushfire response plan. The initial assessment suggested the number of damaged and destroyed properties are in hundreds. Authorities added that mass evacuations by residents from at-risk areas have prevented a major loss of life.
The area is also devoid of electricity as large scale military and police efforts continued to provide supplies and evacuate people who were trapped for several days in the fires. A southerly wind has helped to lower down the temperatures across the nation bringing the temperature lower. There is also a light rain forecast in some coastal areas in the coming days but the officials have warned that downpour would not be sufficient to douse almost 200 fires that are still burning in Southern Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday established a National Bushfire Recovery Agency to co-ordinate recovery efforts ranging from rebuilding infrastructure to providing mental health support even as authorities struggled to tackle the raging bushfire crisis which has so far claimed the lives of 24 people. The agency, headed by former federal police chief Andrew Colvin, will help bushfire affected communities recover, media reports said.
Morrison, who is facing widespread criticism in Australia for his handling of the crisis, said: "This organisation will be stood up for at least two years." He added, "I have no doubt they will have a long list of recovery tasks that (the states) will be performing … rebuilding bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure and we will work hand in glove".