[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_col-lg-1/5 vc_col-md-1/5 vc_col-xs-1/5″][us_image image=”81825″ size=”thumbnail” align=”left” style=”circle” has_ratio=”1″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/12″ offset=”vc_col-lg-4/5 vc_col-md-4/5 vc_col-xs-4/5″][vc_column_text]By Annette Madjarian[/vc_column_text][us_post_date][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The local Hawkesbury River communities once again faced unrelenting flooding and damage to their properties and businesses in what’s been described as the worst floods to hit the area for 30 years.
With now the third flood in two years, many in the community had barely finished their clean-up from earlier in the year before being inundated once again.
The NSW Government declared the flooding and extreme weather a natural disaster, meaning flood-affected communities could access government support.
However, repair works to the roads and the riverbanks – some still unrepaired from earlier floods – would take months, particularly with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting heavy rains in the coming months.
Hundreds of volunteers, State Emergency Services, Rural Fire Service, Police and other emergency teams have been consistently battling the aftermath in an attempt to facilitate a faster recovery.
The Wisemans Ferry Bowling Club and the Men’s Shed were again hit hard. Federal Member for Berowra Julian Leeser, who visited the communities, said the damage to parts of Lower Portland and Sackville North was confronting.
The Hills SES Unit alone had completed more than 500 requests for assistance in the space of just over a week. Most of the incidents were for leaking and damaged roofs, fallen trees, flooding threatening houses, and requests for sandbags.
Pop-up sand collection points were set up at the Glenorie RFS and Box Hill Nelson RFS. Flood boat crews assisted with resupplying urgent items for residents and communities isolated by floodwaters and assisting with several flood rescues.
Disaster Recovery Centres were set up at Wisemans Ferry and South Windsor.
Hills Shire Councillor Mitchell Blue said he had met with locals from Pages Wharf Rd and Mud Island Rd at Sackville North who were still without electricity. “They are struggling for feed for their cattle and they again stressed the importance of access to their properties – something that is not lost on me. In many areas along the river, these roads provide the only access to residents and it is critical that they are repaired as soon as practicable possible” Councillor Blue said.
“These communities can’t be forgotten – I have never seen so much sand washed up onto the river banks and also have never seen so much damage to our roads.”
Federal and State funding is available for those affected by the floods through the Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance. Small businesses and not-for-profit (NFP) organisations affected can apply for up to $50,000 in support through Service NSW.
For Julian Leeser, “local residents have faced the clean-up challenge with unwavering resilience”.
“Our community has much to be proud of. So many have stepped up to support each other and help keep the community safe in the face of disasters,” he said.
In the meantime, for some residents, the clean-up and repair work will continue for the unforeseeable future. Floods coverage continues on page 14 and 21.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]