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Byron Shire
December 3, 2022

New digs for flood adaptation project

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The Mullum Cares crew Celine Massa, Sasha Mainsbridge and Bec Talbot at their new office in the Railway Shed Yard. Photo Tree Faerie.

Mullum Cares has a new home in the Railway Shed Yard, on the corner of Prince and Ann Streets in Mullum.

The office is a shipping container fitted out with the things the group need to show you how to recover quickly from floods.

Mullum Cares is a not-for-profit organisation that started out supporting the community to reduce emissions by changing how it consumes products made for humans. These days, they spend more time talking about mould and waterproof paint with their Byron Shire Residential Flood Adaptation Project.

Inspire and support residential property owners

Founder and President, Sasha Mainsbridge, says they want to inspire and support residential property owners to rebuild flood-resilient homes in order to reduce future loss and trauma.

She told The Echo a flood resilient rebuild is in recognition that if people install gyprock and lay carpet again, then effectively that they could be considered single-use products, if your house isn’t likely to be raised. ‘If we accept that there’s a likelihood that we’re going to get flooded like that again, sometime in the future… I didn’t think twice about not putting carpet back in my house, because I don’t like to waste resources.’

They also have a display of waterproof paint and other items to help you be better prepared.

Celine Massa, Bec Talbot and Sasha Mainsbridge with the waterproof paint display in their new office. Photo Tree Faerie.

Tried and tested waterproof paint

‘One of the strategies we’re demonstrating here is the paint. We’ve been working with experts that have been consulting and working with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority. They have now tried and tested across three major flooding events in Brisbane, that painting pine frames radically reduces the amount of moisture that gets absorbed – we’ve got to get rid of the moisture in order to get rid of mould.

‘So there are lots of things that people can do. Many of them are pretty experimental. Very little of this is guaranteed, but I personally feel confident that I can radically reduce the impact to my house and my family if it floods again.’

Mainsbrisge says she feels like they are more about coaching people than ‘helping’ them. ‘Most people can kind of work it out for themselves. It’s not rocket science. Anybody can go to a hardware and say “Look, I don’t want to put carpet down what are my other options for flooring?”

‘There are lots of things that people can do. Many of them are pretty experimental. Very little of this is guaranteed, but I personally feel very confident that I can radically reduce the impact to my house and my family if it floods again.’

Rebuilding homes to be flood resilient

As far as disasters go, Mainsbridge says that in the Northern Rivers what we’re talking about is flood and fire predominantly. ‘Rebuilding as many homes as possible to be more flood resilient is a way to reduce the risk of future disasters, reduce the costs and the trauma of people being displaced from their accommodation.

‘The flow on effect from the floods, the multiplier effect is there not being enough accommodation, which means there’s not enough accommodation for tradies to help us rebuild, let alone for people to live in.’

Mainsbridge says that one of the main problems is that it’s a perfect storm and that we are set up for a repeat performance because the lion’s share of funding is dealing with the outcome of the crisis. ‘It’s not helping us prepare and reduce future crisis. You know, as long as we keep doing the same stupid things we’ll get the same outcomes.’

Need funds to continue

Mainsbridge says Mullum Cares currently has funding from a philanthropist that will see them through to Christmas. ‘But that’s it. If we don’t get funding to support us to support the community, and continue to offer this service, then myself and my colleagues will have to go and get other jobs.’

There is a lot of info on the Mullum Care website, and anyone is welcome to drop in without a booking for a quick chat and to see the resources they are filling the space with, between 9–11am Monday to Wednesday. For more information, visit: mullumcares.com.au.

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  1. Finally people start using containers. Beware those floors are toxic so run some epoxy enamel or lino over it when you can.
    If I was free to travel I would rig you a 12v system myself so you can have some lights. Anyone in the area good with wiring low voltage systems?


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