WITH nearly half of the Kempsey Shire burned by bushfire in November, the quantity of fences lost is almost incalculable.
Rebuilding fences remains a huge recovery operation across the shire, with the Australian Defence Force again lending support this week to the ongoing work by BlazeAid to reconstruct fences.
While help with shelter, water and food is vital, BlazeAid camp coordinator Natalie Trigwell says many landowners identify fences as their top priority.
"Fencing and stock containment is a safety issue. Getting those stock contained is peace of mind for the farmer but also a chance to take that first step," Natalie said.
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works alongside farmers and families in rural parts of Australia after natural disasters.
BlazeAid set up camp behind the community hall in Willawarrin in early December to assist residents with restoring fencing on properties.
A volunteer herself, Natalie has worked tirelessly leading a small army of volunteers - a mixture of retirees, grey nomads and residents.
Since the start of December, 192 farmers have registered with BlazeAid for fencing assistance, with over 200 volunteers completing 39.1kms of fencing across 69 properties.
"Sometimes after something like this people can be so shell shocked, and it's so big that they don't know where to start," Natalie said.
"For something like BlazeAid to say 'we're going to help you do your fences' it gives them that boost. It's the first step in that recovery process and for some of these people it's going to take years."
Kempsey Shire Council has been working in partnership with BlazeAid to provide support.
Council recently made an application to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for assistance in the up-river area.
The ADF responded by deploying a group of engineers who brought a bulldozer and excavator as well as Army Reserves from Port Macquarie to assist BlazeAid in Willawarrin for a week.
This week the ADF and Army Reserves came back to Willawarrin and are assisting with clearing fence lines and chain sawing large fallen trees to create access for farms in the area.
"We initially had the Army Reserves from Port Macquarie here for about five days to do fencing with us and they have returned to help which has been great," Natalie said.
"It's very much been a partnership with council. All it takes is a phone call if we have a problem with anything and council helping to get the ADF to come here has been a huge help."
If you can assist BlazeAid with volunteering, contact Natalie on 0497 717-605.