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HomeEditors PickNorthern NSW Floods: More rain forecast, intensifying the struggle for reconstruction

Northern NSW Floods: More rain forecast, intensifying the struggle for reconstruction

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Northern Rivers NSW has just experienced one of the worst floods in the region. Water levels exceeding previous flood records by more than 2 meters. The floods of 1954 and 1974 were registered at 12.11 metres. The recent floods in February reached 14.37 meters.

Residents had no warning that this weather event would exceed previous records and by the time the evacuation alarm was raised it was too late, people had no choice but to sit on their rooftops and wait to be rescued.

Trina and Anthony Boland, along with their 7 out of 9 children, were in the family home at the time of the disaster. Their home in Kilgin, a suburb just outside Woodburn, was severely affected by the floods. In addition, they have lost all their agricultural machinery, diesel, tools, as well as income for the next two years with lost cane crops.

Trina and Anthony Boland from Kilgin NSW

The family has already faced floods and thought it would be like the others. When the evacuation order was issued, it was too late. At midnight, Monday night, the water began to enter and when it reached their ankles, they rang the SES. They were told that “no one was available and that they had to wait until morning”.

The Boland Children in the early hours of Monday morning in rising flood waters – 28th March 2022

Unfortunately, due to the very high demand for rescues there was no more news from the SES until two days later, when they called the Boland’s and asked them if they still needed to be rescued.

They were saved by chance when a boat passed their house that morning. They were then taken to the Woodburn School Evacuation Centre, which contained hundreds of people. It was unknown how long this weather event would last. Many thought they would be there for a few days, but that soon turned into evacuating more people to other towns like Evans Head. The water continued to rise, and the town was inaccessible by car for over a week.

The Boland Family home in rising flood waters

Accommodation and housing have been very difficult for most people because it is not a single family, its thousands. “We looked at ourselves as one of the lucky ones because we knew someone with a granny flat. “There are people who live in their living rooms in tents”.

Trina had mentioned that Resilience Australia was organising 100 Caravans or Pods to accommodate people in the area, of which they have not yet received any further information. People are being left in Limbo without knowing what to do next. Trina said, “It was a little misleading because they have said they were prioritising the area for all these pods, what happened to that?”

“We have received a lot of support from many people, but not from the government. Of course, the ADF is with them, and they have been absolutely fantastic, just praise for these ladies and gentlemen. But you have all the other people in the government with the grants making it very difficult to access.”

ADF assisting the clean-up process in Northern Rivers

Accessing many services was difficult for the family. Kilgin is 30 to 40 minutes by car from the nearest town. There was no electricity, people didn’t have computers, phones or even cars to go from A to B. “We just bought a shitty little car, because we didn’t have access to our cars, because they were flooded. So, we couldn’t go anywhere to do anything without relying on someone to pick us up and take us”

When asked whether they had received much government support and access to the available grants, the answer was: “It was hard to access. We got the first $1,000, that was easy. The others are asking for a lot of paperwork that we don’t have. It all went in the flood.”

When asked what the Boland’s wanted from the government, their answer was “I’d like them to say that here’s the money in your account, fix your house. Even if it’s a loan, they just need to make it accessible. Don’t even give the money, just say it’s here if you need it. Even if you could go to Bunnings and they sent the bill to the government. You know, to get you back in your home.”

The family stated” The government I feel has forgotten and moved on.”

It has been left to local charitable organisations such as “Sister Assist” led by Rachel Behn to help these families with fuel vouchers and tools so that they could begin rebuilding their lives. To donate please visit the Woodburn Flood Rebuild Facebook page or via go fund me https://gofund.me/b6146a77

Since the first deluge in February, the region has been hit by a second round of flooding on the 30th of March. With still high-water levels from these two events and with further wet weather forecasts, there is a risk of a third flood event starting from this Wednesday 6 April. People are taking precautions and preparing the best way they can.

Photography by Hollie Mariconte

Boland Flood Images supplied by Trina Boland

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Remember what happened to the funds for the Canadian Freedom Rallies. they used ‘go fund me’ and it was confiscated by the ‘Go Fund Me’ organisation. Be careful who you donate your money through.

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