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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Rebuilding communities from Lennox and Evans Head to Coraki and Woodburn

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Woodburn flooding aftermath, March 2022. Photo Leïla Joy.

In February and March 2022, our region was subject to a series of weather events that caused one of the nation’s worst recorded flood disasters. In Lismore, the Wilson River peaked at 14.1 meters, with horrendous results but communities of Woodburn and Coraki, with smaller pockets of micro-communities were equally devastated by this disaster.

The economic impact of a natural disaster can be felt far beyond the damage to housing and infrastructure. In the two years after the 2022 flood event, some Richmond Valley communities have seen a reduction in median weekly household income of 44.1 per cent according to a report by Mid Richmond Neighbourhood Centre. Add to this the complexities of a widespread housing crisis and the rising cost of living, and it is little wonder many residents are being forced to choose between fixing flood affected homes and putting food on the table.

The Mid Richmond Neighborhood Centre established their Recovery Support Services (RSS) team in 2022 as an emergency response in collaboration with the community. More than two years on from the catastrophic events of 2022, their services are still in high demand and their team continue to respond in direct alignment with the feedback and needs of their communities, working with partner organisations to innovate their projects with a focus on holistic recovery.

Paint kits ready to roll at Evans Head. Photo supplied

In 2023, RSS team members developed a small-scale rebuild project to support the mental and economic wellbeing of flood affected residents. With household budgets largely exhausted by restoring internal walls and amenities, homeowners were struggling to find the resources for painting the remediated rooms within their homes.

By joining forces and utilising funds sourced from the Department of Communities and Justice, Lions District 201 and the band ‘Bliss n Eso’, the MRNC and Lennox Head Lions Club were able to launch this project. The decision to collaborate was an easy one due to the trusting and mutually respectful partnership already established through many other successful flood relief initiatives. To mitigate a significant decline in collective mental wellbeing, the Community Colour Project’s aim was to assist residents in completing the final stage for remediation of internal walls.

At its conclusion, the project was able to provide 11 homeowners experiencing mobility issues with a licensed painter to finish one room within their home. An additional 44 households were provided with DIY paint supply packs. With demand for these supply packs increasing, Lennox Lions were able to acquire additional funding from the Australian Lions Foundation and Gungahlin Lions Club for the provision of a Phase 2 of the project; facilitating the distribution of a further 55 paint packs to residents in Wardell, Broadwater, Coraki, Woodburn, and the surrounding areas.

In all 110 households received support under the project, with much of this number representing local seniors and young families. This project and many others would not have been possible without the mutual trust and continued partnership between Lennox Head Lions Club; along with their funding bodies, the Australian Lions Foundation, and the Gungahlin Lions Club (ACT) and the MRNC. When asked what the support of the Lennox Lions meant to their team, Bianca Raynor (RSS) responded that, ‘Our partnership with Lennox Head Lions Club is one of mutual trust and respect. It has without a doubt been our most invaluable tool for executing community led recovery initiatives. The willingness of Lennox Head Lions to put their faith in our skills and integrity continues to humble us every day.’

Lennox Lions Flood Recovery coordinator Terry Hodgetts. .Photo supplied

Lennox Lions Flood Recovery coordinator Terry Hodgetts was equally effusive, ‘We at Lions are continually impressed by the hard work and unwavering dedication and determination of the staff and volunteers at the Recovery Support Centres. They have provided invaluable support and assistance to hundreds of families recovering from this horrific disaster. We are pleased to have worked with them’.

Working together Lennox Head Lions Club and the Mid Richmond Neighborhood Center have made a real and tangible impact on flood affected communities.


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