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The top request coming out of bushfire-stricken Victorian communities

As “angry” fire affected communities struggle to come to terms with the damage done to their homes and businesses, one key need has emerged.

Former top cop and chair of Bushfire Recovery Victoria, Ken Lay, says he’s heard some “absolutely frightening” stories during his travels to bushfire affected communities.

He’s visited Corryong, Orbost, Sarsfield, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Buchnan, Walwa, Tallangatta, Bright, Myrtleford and Milawai, and spoke to those affected to determine what their needs are.

Mr Lay said one message came through loud and clear from affected communities.

“The strongest message out of the communities has been the roads,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“The roads need to be open.

“The main impact is obviously the Princes Highway, which is, you know, the lifeblood between many communities and many, many businesses.”

With part of the vital road still closed, communities are cut off and businesses are unable to trade.

The other key issue on the minds of those affected is getting back to business as usual.

“There’s people now that are saying that they just want to get on with their lives and get rid of the rubbish on their destroyed buildings, and homes, and start all over again,” Mr Lay said.

But Mr Lay said it’s a long road to recovery and acknowledged some may never get over the devastation.

“You and I will probably be talking about this for years, I suspect,” he said.

“It’s just complex, it’s difficult, it’s challenging.

“Most people will be able to rebuild their lives and get on with their lives … but some people will simply never get over this.

“I suspect that there’s communities still recovering from the 2009 fires.”

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Image: Darrian Traynor / Stringer