The north coast was declared a natural disaster zone on Friday as the massive cleanup effort across the region continues in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.
The hardest hit areas in Byron Shire were Billinudgel, New Brighton, South Golden Beach and low-lying Ocean Shores areas. Homes and cars were submerged, power and roads were cut, livestock drowned and emergency services were stretched to the limit.
The cyclone claimed the lives of a woman and her two children after their car crashed into the Tweed River near Tumbulgum on Monday afternoon.
A woman died in Burringbar while two men died in Murwillumbah, one from a suspected heart attack.
Byron Shire is one of six shires that will be given assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), and support is available to eligible people whose homes or belongings have been flood affected.
Concessional interest rate loans are available for small business, primary producers and non-profit organisations. There will be freight subsidies for primary producers and grants for non-profit organisations.
NSW MP for the Ballina electorate Tamara Smith said while the damage was shocking, she was encouraged to hear that both state and federal governments offered recovery assistance.
Mayor Simon Richardson told The Echo that while the Shire’s north copped heavy flooding and winds, the Shire as a whole dodged the vast bulk of the storm.
He says Council staff are working on an infrastructure inventory and expect to hand that to the federal agencies by Wednesday.
Staff say Council is ‘expecting significant damage to its road and bridge network.
The mayor said, ‘We’ve offered help to Tweed Council; they lost 35 trucks to flooding’.
‘We are also offering assistance to Lismore.
‘I’ve also spoken with [local federal Labor MP] Justine Elliot to request that the flood assistance also cover kerbside collections and the general cleanup.’
Hit by flooding? Help is available
Flood-damaged items can be taken to the Byron Community Recycling Centre in Myocum free of charge until Monday April 10, say Council staff. Staff also say that anyone charged over the weekend for dumping flood-related material should contact Council to arrange a refund.
For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.
To apply for a concessional loan, grant or freight subsidy, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit raa.nsw.gov.au.