A trio of senior state ministers issued a press statement on Sunday outlining the New South Wales government’s response to the Northern Rivers flood disaster.
Premier Dominic Perrottet and Deputy Premier Paul O’Toole joined Emergency Services and Resilience Minister Steph Cooke in outlining official funding and recovery efforts so far.
Ms Cooke recently took on an additional portfolio called Flood Recovery, dedicated to the challenges faced by communities in northern New South Wales after devastating floods and landslides.
The MP for Cootamundra said on Facebook on Monday that she spent the weekend in Lismore.
Over 17,000 flood-affected buildings assessed by SES
The state government has cost-shared about $1.5 billion in recovery support with the federal government since the Northern Rivers disasters were first declared, according to the news release.
On Sunday March 13, 8,000 NSW Emergency Services and Australian Defense Force personnel were working across the state, ministers reported.
Official workers would have ensured supplies reached communities still cut off by floodwaters and helped communities clean up.
As of Monday morning, SES teams had carried out nearly 17,000 damage assessments on households, businesses and industrial premises, Ms Cooke said via social media.
The minister said 3,657 houses had been classified as uninhabitable.
Record floods, record waste
The data on the amount of trash left behind after the record floods was staggering.
More than 3,800 lorries of waste have been moved to waste-to-waste transfer stations in Alstonville and Coraki, Ms Cooke said Monday morning via Facebook.
“More than 1,300 animal carcasses have been disposed of,” added the minister.
The Prime Minister said there were almost 100 cleanup crews working in the Northern Rivers and Hawkesbury areas, removing 4,000 tonnes of rubbish a day.
Mr Perrottet said cleanup crews moved the same amount of rubbish, on average, over four days that was moved in four weeks after flooding in Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Nambucca a year ago.
Flooded refugees will be accommodated in motorhomes, ‘pods’ and ‘recreational camps’, government says
2,000 people were beginning to be moved from evacuation centers, hotels and motels to longer-term housing under a $285 million federally-funded temporary housing assistance program states, according to the press release.
Service NSW had helped 30,000 people with ‘everything from grants to replacement ID’, the trio said, and was taking registrations from those who ‘expect to need accommodation’.
Ministers said flood-affected communities would soon have access to 16-week rental assistance, as well as temporary accommodation in the form of so-called ‘pods’ and ‘recreational camps’ on the rivers of the North.
echo asked for more information on the pods and a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s media said they were the same used after the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires.
The spokesperson said the temporary prefab self-contained homes were designed to be erected on flood-affected properties so families could stay put during reconstruction.
More information will be provided, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Ms Cooke said via social media that another 20 motorhomes were due to arrive in Lismore today.
A total of 12 motorhomes were destined for the area, Ms Cooke said, with more expected to arrive in the coming days.
A housing brokerage service allowing the Australian Red Cross to work with private rental companies, such as Airbnb and Stayz, would help connect people with rental homes, the NSW government has said.
Sunday’s official response summary also included $25 million in mental health support.
Help with applying for government support was available through Resilience NSW, which had ten recovery centers open on Monday morning.
The government has said more recovery centers will open in areas where emergency evacuation orders have been lifted.
Ms Cooke said 57 local government areas had been declared disaster areas.
Over 400 farmers seek government aid after floods
Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole said primary producer grants have been activated faster than ever before, with farmers able to access up to $15,000 immediately and up to a total of $75,000.
Mr O’Toole said the government had already received more than 400 grant applications.
The deputy prime minister said the government also helped farmers by delivering 1.9 tonnes of fodder.
More information on government assistance was available in line.