North Coast flood recovery coordinator Mr Euan Ferguson conceded that they had been too slow in responding to the needs of residents and businesses in the north of Byron Shire.
‘It took us too long come to Mullumbimby and meet with the Byron Shire council,’ he said.
‘We should have been here within the first ten days.’
Over 40 residents from the North of Byron Shire, primarily from businesses in Billinudgel, attended a meeting in Mullumbimby at the council chambers on Wednesday 26th April to discuss the response and recovery to Cyclone Debbie.
‘The response to the needs of Billinudgel to date, I feel has been inadequate,’ said Rebecca Brewin from BiIlli Auto.
‘There are no clear plans in place for how these disasters are responded to.’
Category C funding
Ferguson and the Byron Shire Council are now working towards a proposal for category C funding for the Billinudgel area as part of a second round of funding applications to the Commonwealth. .
‘We are working with the data to see if there are other areas that might qualify,’ said Ferguson.
‘The data is saying we need to take action.
‘We don’t want to build up hopes, however there area number of areas that need a closer look at.’
If category C is declared then businesses in that area are able to apply for the funding which is allocated under its specific set of criteria.
Council are still collecting and collating data to contribute to the category C application with residents handing in impact statements at the meeting as well as a petition.
If you are a local business who has been affected by the floods you are encouraged to hand an impact statement to council.
In response to the serious flooding the Billinudgel community is coming together to create a sub-committee tot the North Byron Chamber of Commerce to look at the needs of small businesses and future responses to these events.
Ferguson also highlighted that if people have insurance they are advised to put in a claim even if they are not covered for flood. If they feel they have not been fairly death with you can call the insurance council hotline and an independent review of the claim can be done.
State government help is also available:
Disaster relief grants for individuals for replacement of household items contact: 1800018444.
Small business advice, business bus and newsletter.
Financial loans a of up to $130,000. These are means tested and process can be tricky to work through.
Loans and transport subsidies for farmers.
To find out more phone 1800678593.
‘The council are aware of the issues they and we are facing,’ said Brewin.
‘Our community requires transparency, as to the action that is and will be taken in the event of future flooding. Community are intensely concerned as these matters have direct impact on the finances, health and safety of local residents.
‘People need both council and SES on the ground before the floods in preparation. If that had happened people could have had significantly less losses.’
SES and other services are organising meetings to look at meetings for flood debriefs.
‘There are a lot of unanswered questions,’ said Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron.
‘This is a flood, that in my 30 years in the area, like I’ve never seen before.’
‘Councillors didn’t really have a role in the disaster plan. But it is clear that councillors are looked to for information.
‘Council responded by opening up the tip for free flood waste material deposit, door knocking and kerb side collection.
‘I can see there will always be people looking to us in this situation and part of the resolution at the last council meeting was to look at how we can be part of that process.
‘Give us suggestions about how we can respond. It is very much an issue that we will be looking at.’
A future meeting will be called regarding flood planning and mitigation.
Support Billinudgels recovery
Sunday 7 May’s Nudge Nudge Wink Wink at the Billinudgel Hotel is keeping it local and asking us all to dig deep and dance to raise funds for the Billinudgel Village Flood Relief.
Cyclone Debbie wreaked havoc throughout the Northern Rivers region causing severe damage to our neighbouring shires and in the Byron Shire itself. The home of the event, the Village of Billinudgel was underwater with devastating effects, it deserves our help to rebuild itself and everyone can help! The funds will be distributed to those in the village most in need of assistance.