Residents have been contacting The Echo asking where the Byron Shire council has been?
The region has been declared a natural disaster area and the council appeared to be closed for the weekend.
People have been shocked at the response – or lack of response – from Byron Shire council and councillors.
‘We are based in Ocean Shores and many of our neighbours houses were underwater,’ said local resident Sue Wilson.
‘We were unable to contact council over the weekend, they had nothing on their website and then people were being charged between $200 and $400 over the weekend to get rid of the rubbish at the Myocum recycling centre after the floods.
Council informed staff on Saturday to accept green waste and flood damaged waste for free.
‘They’ve extended it until 4 pm today (free waste) but some people have lost their cars and have no way of getting their rubbish there while others have to wait for insurance assessments before they can start the clean up.’
Many areas in Byron shire escaped relatively unscathed but Billinudgel, South Golden beach, New Brighton and low lying areas of Ocean Shores were particularly hard hit. Flood waters rose higher than most people in the region had seen them before with many people saying they were higher than the ’74 floods.
‘When we called a local councillor they said they didn’t even know that Billinudgel and New Brighton were underwater and [mayor] Simon Richardson never returned our calls.’
Sue and Scott Wilson have questioned how council could be so ill prepared to respond to the flooding.
‘We also have a house in Brisbane,’ continued Sue. ‘The local councillor there was in the street door knocking in the rain within a few hours of the flooding over the weekend. He was asking how he could help, organising pumps and helping people. We haven’t seen a single councillor here.’
Many people in the shire have lost everything from household possessions to cars.
‘There is a pensioner in Billinudgel who has lost everything,’ said Scott Wilson. ‘Her house was flooded and the only dry thing left was her computer which she put on a high shelf – then someone came and stole it.
‘Where have the council been on this issue? I was in Thailand when the tsunami happened and the response to a natural disaster was better in a third world country than this.’
Tweed Council has been placing skips in areas that have been hard hit by flooding over the weekend to assist residents with the cleanup process. They have also brought in extra rubbish trucks to help with removal of rubbish bins and skips and returning them to ensure that residents can continue the cleanup.
Byron Shire Council responds
After initially charging people to deposit flood waste over the weekend Byron Council then said they would allow free waste dumping at the Myocum recycling centre until 4pm today. On review they have now extended the offer to dump flood waste until Monday 10 April.
Byron council have said that anyone charged over the weekend for dumping flood related material should contact council to arrange a refund.
Mullumbimby High School is currently closed to all but year 11 and 12 students due to damage following the flooding.
Lighthouse removals have said, on the Facebook pages of Mullum bytes and Helping Hands Byron Shire, that they will take flood damaged material to the dump for free from Ocean Shores – you just need to help them load the truck.
Many others are offering furniture and other goods to people who have lost everything in the floods and those who need specific items are listing them to see if they can be replaced.
In true Mullumbimby spirit IGA in Mullumbimby stayed open on Friday despite the cut to electricity. They were letting people in one at a time to shop until they were able to fully open their doors when power was restored.