Large parts of northern NSW have been flooded with the Premier warning that the worst could be “yet to come” as more wet weather moves south.
The northern rivers region has seen over 6000 calls to emergency services in the past 48 hours with over 1000 rescues taking place with rescuers stretched to capacity.
Floodwaters have reached the tops of peoples houses and, in some cases, beyond as people scramble to reach higher ground and stay above the rising waters.
Already, one person has been confirmed to have died while several others are being reported as missing on social media.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said emergency response and recovery efforts were being
coordinated to ensure assistance reaches as many people as possible.
“It’s heartbreaking to see communities hit by such severe flooding for the second time
in 12 months, but I want to reassure everyone that our emergency response and
recovery planning are both well underway,” he said.
Some of the areas in question were hit by what was described at the time as “one in 100 year flooding” in March of last year not long after the black summer bushfires tore through the same regions.
Intense rainfall is expected to continue over the next week and a State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) has been established at Homebush to manage the unfolding crisis in New South Wales.
“The worst could be yet to come … the flood rivers remain a real risk to people’s lives and we will be doing everything we can to get every person, every family, every business back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Perrottet has said.
“I also want to say as well, we know that at the moment this is focused on the north. But very quickly, as we’re seeing in metropolitan Sydney now, it will move to the south.
“We say to people across our city and across our state, look after yourself, follow the advice, stay safe and we’ll all get through.”
Already, Sydney’s dam network is at 97.6% capacity with the Warragamba Dam at 99% ahead of the 200mm or rainfall expected over the next 24 hours.
In response, the NSW Government, just like the Queensland Government, has opened applications for Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) to those affected by the 2022 floods.
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”.
Who Can Get the AGDRP?
So far, 14 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 Other Financial Support Is Available?
In addition to the AGDRP, the Federal Government also offers Disaster Recovery Allowance. This is short-term income assistance for up to 13 weeks for those who have lost income as a direct result of the floods.
Resilience NSW also offers a disaster relief grant for those whos homes or essential houshold items have been damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. You can call 13 77 88 to fid out if you’re eligible for this payment.
New Zealand citizens are also eligible for the New Zealand Disaster Recovery Payment and the New Zealand Disaster Recovery Allowance.
New South Wales also offers the Additional Child Care Subsidy for eligible people which can provide extra help with the cost of childcare.
Most major banks also offer financial help or relief to their customers affected by natural disasters – you can find a list of those here.
If you’re worried about your finances and how you’re going to be able to pay for all of this, the National Debt Helpline offers free, confidential financial counselling and resources.
If this all sounds like a lot, the NSW government has an online questionnaire that you can fill out to figure out exactly which grants and payments you qualify for and how to apply.
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 accommodation. 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.