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Byron Shire
May 19, 2024

SES volunteers making life safer for flood impacted residents

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Jake Whitfield heading out the door to volunteer for the NSW SES. Photo supplied.

Today in ‘it’s-important-to-be-a-volunteer’ news, Jake Whitfield is one of dozens of SES volunteers who were helping local residents during the rain event on the weekend.

Jake heard about how in March this year, there were a really small number of available SES volunteers in the Byron Shire who were not flooded in and therefore, available to help.

Since then he has joined the SES with the Mullumbimby branch, is undertaking a water rescue qualification, and, utilising the skills of his ‘day job’ as an arborist, he has been able to teach chainsaw operation to the other volunteers.

1.30am : time to go home

Over the weekend, Jake spent a lot of time helping out in and around the Mullum community. ‘There were quite a few people who were there all day helping out with various jobs. It wasn’t until around 1.30am that we felt confident enough that the rain was easing up enough so we could all go home.’

Jake says the local SES unit went to about 20 jobs in the area on both Saturday and Sunday. ‘We were mostly delivering sandbags and helping people who don’t have the means or physical ability to protect their own homes. I think there were a couple of calls for help for leaking or damaged roofs plus a rescue for someone who had driven into flood water.’

Jake said everyone was very grateful for the help. ‘A lot of people don’t realise it is a volunteer organisation and seem quite surprised at the help they are given. Everyone is taking some time out of their lives to help others in our community.’

Jake also manage to squeeze in some training on the weekend. ‘It will go towards my flood rescue qualifications,’ he said.

For more information on joining the SES, visit their website.

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