The prime minister has declared Lismore a natural disaster area and councils throughout the Northern Rivers have been provided with disaster assistance.
The PM and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have visited Lismore today to view flood damage and declare the Northern Rivers a natural disaster area. Severe storms, heavy rainfall and flooding since last Friday has wreaked havoc on roads in the Lismore Local Government Area, with culvert washouts, landslips and major damage to both the sealed and gravel road network.
Deputy Mayor of Lismore City Council Neil Marks said the severe weather in recent days has resulted in major damage to Lismore’s road network and city infrastructure that is expected to exceed $15 million. This includes major damage to a culvert on Blue Knob Road cutting the road north out of Nimbin which has also cut the towns water supply.
Mr Marks said it was terrific to see swift action and the declaration opens the way for Lismore City Council to receive significant funding under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
‘We do not yet know the full cost of this weather event, but we know it will be very significant. It will take time for Council to properly assess the damage and have a clear picture of the total cost, but to know we can access disaster recovery funding is good news for the city,’ he said.
Disaster assistance for Northern NSW
Disaster assistance was made available to council’s in storm and flood affected Northern New South Wales local government areas of Armidale, Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Nambucca, Port Macquarie – Hastings, Richmond Valley and Tweed through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the heavy rainfall and flooding caused widespread damage across the impacted councils.
‘This was a serious event which has caused significant damage to local roads, businesses and residential properties,’ Minister Littleproud said.
‘Through the DRFA, a range of practical assistance measures are now available to help individuals get back on their feet.
‘This includes in-kind assistance, such as emergency accommodation, food hampers or small cash payments to purchase essential items, as well as grants to replace essential household contents or repair structural damage to homes.’
Assistance available under the DRFA may include:
- help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged
- support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
- concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
- freight subsidies for primary producers, and
- grants to eligible non-profit organisations
Byron Shire General Manager, Mark Arnold, said the declaration is an acknowledgement of the impact the rain has had on some of the Council’s roads and other infrastructure.
‘The cost of repairing roads and damage to causeways is immense and the funding from the DRFA will cover a lot of these unexpected expenses,’ Mr Arnold said.
‘Council staff are continuing to repair infrastructure but the full cost of the rain event has not yet been determined.
‘In the meantime heavy rainfall is continuing across parts of the Byron Shire and people are asked to take care on roads and not attempt to drive or walk through flood water.’
For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444. To apply for a concessional loan or grant, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au
Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and the NSW emergency information and response website at www.emergency.nsw.gov.au.