The state’s emergency service crews are working through a list of at least 4,000 damaged properties in a massive clean-up operation across flood-ravaged western NSW and the east coast.
While evacuation orders have now been lifted and many services are in place to help residents, authorities say the clean-up could take months.
SES NSW spokesperson David Webber said in eastern regions of the state emergency services are focusing on engagement with communities to provide them with any required recovery assistance. This includes property assessments, flood recovery centres, and clean-up assistance.
“[We have] done under 14,000 assessments and have assessed just over 4,000 of those so far to be damaged, mostly flooding damage,” Webber told Central News.
“We’re also working with Resilience NSW in transitioning those communities from response into recovery… [there is a] whole range of work still ahead for us to engage in these communities about looking at the events and what happened… to move into preparing us for the next event.”
SES NSW Commissioner Carlene York recently revealed the organisation responded to more than 13,500 requests for assistance.
St John’s Northern Sector Commander Peter Cameron advised community members to “reach out to their local councils, their local clubs, and see what assistance is required in their local area.”
Communities have also been involved in setting up recovery hubs – places where communities can find services to help with clean-up, financial struggles associated with the floods, and insurance support. Residents can find information regarding these and flooding updates on council websites and Facebook pages and SES sites.
SES crews commended the communities involvement in supporting those affected during and after the floods.
“Everyone was coming together to help everyone and I think that was really lovely to see,” Mr Cameron said.
Mr Webber added: “Especially around the Hawkesbury and Nepean area, the way communities have responded to that has been incredibly impressive.”
According to the Bureau of Meteorology between March 17-24 the coast of NSW received at least 200mm of rain, some areas even receiving over 400mm which resulted in approximately 18,000 evacuation orders.
The Hawkesbury region experienced its worst flooding in 30 years, and the Hawkesbury river its highest levels at North Richmond and Windsor since 1990. The river reached 12.93 metres at Windsor Bridge and 14.05 metres at the Richmond Bridge.
Both bridges were flooded and closed on March 21 and remained closed until March 27. This led to the isolation of many of Hawkesbury’s communities, including Wilberforce, North Richmond and Freemans Reach.
The same regions faced the challenges of bushfires in 2019 and 2020.
“We live in a country where floods happen,” Mr Webber said. “Having a plan around what to do based on the potential impacts and risks in your local area then acting on those plans when those events do happen [is important].”
Story by Flora Cann and Thelma Kwaramba.
Main picture by Flora Cann. The flooded Windsor Bridge, seen from Thompson Square, Windsor, at the height of the flooding last month.