REBUILD: Kim Vogel tragically lost his home to the bushfires that ripped through the region in September.
REBUILD: Kim Vogel tragically lost his home to the bushfires that ripped through the region in September.

The road to recovery has only just begun

MORE than four months on since the devastating bushfires ripped through the region and the community is slowly recovering, beginning the start of a lengthy rebuilding process.

Those that lost everything are trying to adjust, The Federal Government has thrown in another $1 million and community groups and individuals have risen to the task of helping those in need recover.

Seventy-nine-year-old Kim Vogel who tragically lost his home in the September bushfires is "doing the best he can" according to his son, Paul Vogel.

"He is living in town with my younger brother," Mr Vogel said.

"Everyday life is pretty much the same for him, minus his home and all of his belongings."

As for the remains of the house, Mr Vogel said a large amount of time has gone into sorting through and clearing the burnt tin and rubble.

"Once that's all cleared we can start thinking about what's next.

"We don't want to get in there and rush it, we want to make sure it planned out before we get stuck into it," he said.

Mr Vogel said it was the community support that helped his dad through the devastating time the most.

"There was great support within the local community, making sure people were doing the best they could given the circumstance," he said.

The support didn't stop at the community, with The Aussie Trekka Founder Brad Costigan working in the area since October donating more than 565,000 litres of water, a water tank and 120 Christmas hampers.

Now, as the prolonged effects of drought continue, Mr Costigan said the Granite Belt face a new issue.

"I have had great support donation wise since I started helping out there in October.

"But what I am finding now is that coming into January and the new year the donation drive that I have for the area is starting to dry up," he said.

The persistent Mr Costigan said he is now working on a short video which outlines what the Granite Belt and surrounding areas are still going through after September's devastating bushfires and ongoing drought.

"I want to show people what an awesome Aussie community are doing to help each other in hard times."

He said the end goal of the video is too increase awareness for the area and assist in continuing future donations.

"I want to try and continue the support.

"It could be helping to hand out hampers or donating water. All of this has slowed down but the drought hasn't," he said.

Mr Costigan isn't the only one who has noticed a decline in donations, with Purple Dove Founder Chris Robins hoping to see more awareness come from the video.

"People are coping but the help is still needed," she said.

"The drought hasn't broken and there is still a need here.

"It's the awareness that we need to have people visit and put money back into the town," Ms Robins said.

Mr Costigan isn't the only one helping the community rebuild with Southern Downs Regional Council announcing a $1 million immediate bushfire recovery grant.

Maranoa MP David Littleproud said the grant will help rebuild vital infrastructure and strengthen community resilience further.

"To be battling through drought and then get kicked in the guts again with bushfires shows how tough and determined the people on the Southern Downs are," Mr Littleproud said.

"This $1 million payment is just the start of our rebuild.

"SDRC will decide what infrastructure is important to people across the region and it will be built back better.

"This can go into repairing and rebuilding vital assets like roads, bridges or staging events that bring visitors back into the region and boost tourism dollars for local businesses."

Mr Littleproud said the grant can even be used to hire staff for bushfire recovery work.

"I've made it clear this won't be a Canberra led recovery, it'll be a locally led recovery and this is our first instalment in that process.

"We're committed to rebuilding communities and the lives of those impacted by these devastating fires.

"That's why we've created the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Agency - where this $1 million grant is being drawn from.

"Giving SDRC the opportunity to scope out how to begin rebuilding," he said.

It doesn't stop there, Purple Dove founder Chris Robins said her and her husband Ian have been keeping busy gathering as many back to school items as they can to donate to families in need.

"We will be dropping off a box to each of the schools in the area," Ms Robin said.

"The teachers will then distribute the items to those kids that need it.

"The size of the school will depend on the size of the box."

To donate, contact Chris and Ian Robins at Purple Dove Awareness Group on Facebook.

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