The operation to clean-up homes and businesses destroyed and damaged by bushfires across NSW took a major step forward with debris being cleared from Rainbow Flat properties on the North Coast, as well as in the Blue Mountains and Batemans Bay.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro and NSW Police Assistant Commissioner and State Recovery Coordinator Mick Willing joined Laing O’Rourke Managing Director Cathal O’Rourke in Rainbow Flat to oversee the start of clean-up operations.

Mr Barilaro said excavators will clear approximately 40 destroyed properties at Rainbow Flat in the coming days, as part of the NSW Government’s commitment to cover the cost of the clean-up on a 50:50 basis with the Federal Government, so insured and uninsured owners will have more money in their pockets to rebuild their homes.

“The sooner we can safely clear the 2,400 plus houses and thousands of other buildings that have been destroyed across the State, the sooner people can rebuild,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Initial building assessments have already been done for over 41,000 properties. Now the clean-up resources are rolling out across the State.

“Having excavators in place and working so quickly is a testament to Laing O’Rourke’s expertise. I thank them and Public Works Advisory for making this happen, especially given the challenges caused by the weekend downpours.”

Assistant Commissioner Willing said co-ordinating a safe, efficient and timely clean-up effort across the State will be challenging.

“The clean-up includes managing hazardous materials such as asbestos, dangerous trees that are near homes or commercial buildings, along with damaged driveways that could impact on the safety of the clean-up or impede the rebuilding process. We will also be ensuring the huge volume of waste is disposed of correctly,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.

“This is a mammoth task and I ask people to please be patient for a little while longer, we are coming to your town as soon as possible.”

Mr O’Rourke said Laing O’Rourke will work with qualified local subcontractors and suppliers where possible to take advantage of local knowledge and expertise.

“Laing O’Rourke has pulled together a team of experts in their field from across the industry, and now we are ready to mobilise and get on with the task of helping people recover as soon as possible,” Mr O’Rourke said.

To opt-in to the free property clean-up service, bushfire-impacted owners must register online at www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.