Property owners prepare for worst

AUTHORITIES expect to let bushfire victims back into the fire-ravaged Tasman Peninsula to assess the damage to their homes, shacks and businesses this afternoon.

The Arthur Highway, which has been closed since last Friday, will be reopened for property owners and residents only.

Police advised residents at a series of information sessions yesterday to prepare for confronting scenes. 

Acting Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard said it would be traumatic. 

``I'd be encouraging parents of children, for example, if they do have the option maybe not take the kids down for the first visit, let mum and dad go and have a look first and go back and talk to them to prepare them a little bit more. That would be my advice as one parent to another,'' acting Commissioner Tilyard said. 

At Sorell, Commander Peter Edwards told people to be careful of hazards such as burnt-out trees, asbestos and contaminated water supplies. 

``We're also keen to get you back into your communities as quickly as possible,'' Commander Edwards said. 

He advised people to collect their thoughts before entering damaged sites. 

``We recognise there will be a whole range of emotions. Some will return to find their houses unaffected, others will return to where their house was.''   

Many of the 60 people who attended the meeting had already returned via back roads or heard through friends whether their property had survived. 

Checkpoints will be set up to ensure residents and property owners are the first to return before the area is opened to the public. 

Residents will be handed kits containing masks, gloves, overalls and garbage bags. 

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