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Byron Shire
July 6, 2022

Far North Coast surf clubs drive buses for flood kids

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Weeks of heavy rain on the Tweed River did little to wash away the community spirit, with the four surf life saving clubs in the area combining to bring relief to affected families – by lending their resources to a devastated school in need of student transport.

Fingal Rovers, Cudgen Headland, Salt and Cabarita Beach SLSCs have played a large part in the combined effort of volunteers and the public to assist flood-stricken areas including Tumbulgum, 20 minutes inland from Kingscliff Beach.

The Public School, along with the town itself, has been devastated by the floods, with businesses indefinitely closed and many having lost everything. It has meant that the 28 registered students and their teachers have been transferred to the nearest operating school in Kingscliff.

Through the generosity of Cudgen Headland SLSC, the club has donated its bus to transport students to and from school for the rest of the term, with patrolling member Mike Kenny volunteering to drive the bus during that time and cover all fuel costs.

‘We went down and met the principal last Friday and some parents and kids, some of the stories they had – there are people who in a lot of cases have lost everything, literally,’ said Mr Kenny.

‘The kids don’t even have the comfort of being able to go to their school until it’s fixed up. I’ve never seen anything, anywhere near like it, you can see contents of houses and business stacked up on the street, encased in mud.

‘These kids have already had two weeks off in the middle of the term, a lot of these kids are living in motor homes and other temporary accommodation, so that normality of being with their own teachers, albeit at a different school, is important.’

Day one went well

Yesterday was the first day that the Cudgen Headland bus ran its school pickup and drop off trips, with Mr Kenny saying that the last few weeks had shown just how giving the community is.

‘We’re happy to contribute to that. The widespread goodwill within the clubs is infectious,’ he said. ‘For those that haven’t been affected that live nearby, you’re motivated to help in various ways and a lot of people are doing whatever they can.

‘I was more than happy to fill the role. This was the first run, eleven little kids came in the bus and one teacher.

“It’s important to provide that alternative and create a positive experience for them right now,’ he added. ‘The school welcomed them when they arrived, there were a lot of positive conversations.’

Cudgen Headland SLSC Patrol Manager David Field said the floods had hit hard, and it was great to see members of the club showing support.

‘The four Tweed clubs have all been involved in various ways, this is just one example,’ he said. ‘Mike is also a First Aid trainer and patrols at both Cudgen and Fingal. While I was getting a roster of volunteer drivers together, Mike stepped up and offered to be the bus driver for the rest of term.

‘Before this the biggest flood we’ve ever had was in 2017, now this is even bigger,’ said Mr Field. ‘They keep redrawing the line on the telegraph pole down by the river.’

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