Minister for police and emergency services Michael Gallacher last night made natural disaster declarations for Bellingen, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore and Richmond Valley.
Tweed – the shire most affected by the recent floods – is due to be declared today.
And the declaration only came after an outright prodding earlier in the day by shadow special minister of state Steve Whan.
In a media release issued five hours before the announcement, Mr Whan said, ‘One of this government’s first acts was to abolish Emergency Management NSW and sack its very experienced director. The long delays on this declaration and last year’s submission to the federal government for flood assistance give very little reason for confidence in the new administration.’
Byron Shire Council’s executive manager of community infrastructure Phil Holloway said yesterday that the council had embarked on critical emergency repair measures to Wilsons Creek Road and Main Arm Road without knowing if a natural disaster declaration would be made.
‘The repair works and estimated costs will be reported to council as soon as possible,’ Mr Holloway said.
‘At this stage the region has not been declared a natural disaster and therefore all costs will be worn by Council,’ he said at the time.
The repair works are estimated take at least two weeks and will remain dependent on the weather.
Minister Gallacher said, ‘This weather system has caused a lot of damage to critical infrastructure, property and road networks’.
‘By declaring natural disasters for these council areas, we are unlocking a number of measures to help local residents, business owners and farmers get back on their feet faster.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation in those flood-affected areas and, if necessary, additional councils may need to be declared natural disasters,’ Minister Gallacher said.
A number of supportive schemes are now available to assist with the cost of restoration and recovery under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements and the NSW Disaster Assistance Arrangements.
Mr Gallacher also praised the work of voluntary relief workers during the floods.