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Bushfire evacuation messages not received by residents

Residents in the bushfire-ravaged town of Tathra on the far south coast were unable to receive emergency messages because phone lines were down.

The firestorm has destroyed over 70 homes and businesses so far, with crews still working to contain spot fires.

Bega Valley Shire Council’s Deputy Mayor and Tathra resident Liz Seckold tells Chris Smith she didn’t receive an evacuation message until late afternoon when the fire was well-advanced.

Ms Seckold when she turned on the radio, the ABC was broadcasting the sport.

“Two mobile phone towers were out, we had no mobile phone coverage. We didn’t know what was going on.

“We hadn’t got any messages. There were people in the street trying to find out what was happening.

“The first [message] I got was at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon.  It was saying get out of Tathra. We could see the flames a couple of streets behind us.”

Residents have been evacuated to Bega Showground and still aren’t sure whether they have a home to return to.

Click PLAY below to hear Deputy Mayor Liz Seckold’s harrowing account

Image: @RochyKate Twitter

Tathra resident David Porter tells Chris he had already fled by the time the evacuation SMS was sent.

“The Tathra SMS came through after we’d already left.

“The smoke was so thick you couldn’t see or walk or drive by the time we got the SMS.”

David says he doesn’t know whether his home has survived the blaze but family is his priority.

“I have a 93-year-old father so we were very conscious that we had to try to get him out.”

Click PLAY below to hear David’s story