Thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes and 38 areas in the state are now classified as natural disaster areas as NSW battles through a one-in-a-100-year flooding event.
Some 200 schools have been forced to close, while a number of homes and businesses have been devastated. Tragically, many of these properties are in the same regions hit hardest by the 2019/2020 bushfires. And intense rainfall is expected to continue over the next couple of days.
“Some communities battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and deep drought prior to that. I don’t know any time in the state’s history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told media on Monday, March 22.
Outages of water, electricity, sewerage, telecommunications and gas are expected to last weeks and could even continue for months, while insurers have received over 5,000 claims in the last few days.
Now, the Government has launched the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP), designed specifically to “support people adversely affected by the floods in New South Wales in March 2021”.
What is the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment?
The AGDRP is a lump-sum payment of $1,000 for adults, and $400 for each child younger than 16. It is designed to help those significantly affected following a declared disaster, it is not eligible for “minor damage or inconvenience”.
Claims can be made until September 20, 2021.
Who can get the AGDRP?
So far, 34 local government areas have been determined for residents to claim the lump-sum payment, a full list of which can be found here.
Those who claim will need to meet a certain set of criteria, and must be:
- An Australian resident or holder of an eligible visa
- 16 years or older at the time of the flood
- Meet Local Government Area (LGA) requirements
- Have not already claimed the AGDRP
There are specifications around the degree of damage too. The Government considers the below as adversely affected by the flood:
- You were seriously injured
- You’re the immediate family member of an Australian citizen or resident who died or is missing
- You’re the principal carer of a dependent child who’s experienced any of the above
- The flood significantly damaged your principal place of residence
If you’re part of a couple, both people are able to claim the payment separately.
What level of home damage is considered eligible?
The AGDRP considers the below as significant damage to your home:
- It has been destroyed or must be demolished
- It has been declared structurally unsound
- The flood has caused major damage to the interior
- The flood has exposed the interior to the elements
- Sewage has contaminated the interior
- The flood has significantly damaged a major asset or assets you own at your property*
*A major asset is an asset or assets with a combined market value of $20,000 or more. This can include buildings, vehicles, caravans, water tanks or large-scale machinery.
What to do if your home is flood-damaged
According to The Guardian, homeowners must prioritise their own safety when returning to a flood-damaged property. In the first instance, make sure your electricity remains switched off, and do not turn it on until an electrician has properly inspected it. Homeowners are then urged to contact their insurer, coming armed with extensive and thorough photos of any damaged caused and retaining any samples of damaged property before starting to clean up.
Income assistance with the Disaster Recovery Allowance
If your income has been affected as a direct result of the floods, you may be eligible for the Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA). The DRA is accessible for up to 13 weeks from the date you lose income and is available to Australian residents or eligible visa-holders over 16.
The maximum payment rate is equivalent to that of JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance and is based on your circumstances, including your accomodation. Your personal income before and after the floods will be taken into account too. Those eligible could receive up to $1713.90 per week.
You can apply for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment right here. For emergency assistant call 000 or the SES at 132 500. For a full list of evacuation centres and closed schools, visit ABC News for more.