The cleanup of homes destroyed in last year's bushfire is set to start in earnest today, months after hundreds of homes were wrecked in a series of horror blazes.
And residents of Wytaliba and Torrington, who lost scores of homes in two intense blazes over 170 days ago, say the job can't be done soon enough.
Lead engineering contractor Lang O'Rourke will clear debris left at dozens of homes wrecked near Glen Innes, Tenterfield and Armidale and the Clarence Valley starting this week. The company said it started contacting residents on April 21 in the shires to organise the clean-up.
It's done little to quash the frustration of community members over what they perceive to be a drawn-out process.
Torrington resident Thomas Noel Eveans lost virtually all of his possessions, his home and a dog when the small village was hit by a blaze he described as an unstoppable explosive wall of flame.
For months he was homeless, living with a friend who also lost two homes. His house was cleared of debris before Easter.
Around a dozen ruined homes have been cleared up. Half-a-dozen buildings that weren't residences, which have been deemed a lower priority, are yet to be done, he said.
The job has taken "way too long", he said.
But in a weird way he'll have mixed feelings to see the ruins go.
"It's been the way it is for so long. Once the place has been cleaned up I guess it'll start sinking in then in a way," he said.
But it's been the charity work of locals that has really raised community spirits, he said. Crews of a dozen volunteers from Backtrack and Mindaroo have been repairing fencing in the village for the last four or five weeks, he said.
Glen Innes Mayor Carol Sparks lost a home badly damaged in the Wytaliba blaze. She agreed the cleanup has taken too long.
But many residents are still homeless in the small village, with others living in the Glen Innes town, renting accommodation. Others are still homeless or living in tents in the small village.
"Some people are doing it fairly tough and the cold weather has started this week," she said.
Laing O'Rourke was appointed to the job in late January. They will have to clear some 703 dwellings in Northern NSW alone. A further 247 were damaged.