Weather warnings are in place right across the state of NSW and parts of Queensland and Victoria as the Bureau of Meteorology warn that “almost every river” west of the Great Dividing Range in NSW could flood in the coming hours and days.
Minor to moderate flooding is expected along the coast, including the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers as well as the Wollongong basin, but the main areas of concern are further inland.
Places like Cobar, Griffith, Tamworth, Bathurst, and Bourke are in the firing line as rain is set to fall heavier than those regions have almost ever seen it. More than 50mm of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours in areas around Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo, just west of Parkes.
Sydney is set to break its record for the wettest year by the weekend, topping the highest annual rainfall ever recorded of 2,194mm way back in 1950.
Unfortunately, it’s areas of the country that have recently been hit that will likely be hit hardest once again as a further 40 – 100mm of rain is expected in some parts across the weekend.
“Many communities that recently experienced flooding or are currently in flood will likely see rivers rise in the coming week,” the BOM said in a press release. “The ground remains saturated, and any additional rainfall will cause streams and rivers to rise”.
In response to the ongoing and predicted rainfall, the federal government has expanded access to Australian government disaster recovery payments to include 30 LGAs in NSW and QLD.
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 specifically for people recovering from a disaster, like a bushfire or a flood, and can’t be used for “minor damage or inconvenience”.
Who Can Get the AGDRP?
So far, 30 local government areas have been determined for residents to claim the lump-sum payment. If you’re a NSW resident, you can check if you’re eligible here and if you’re a QLD resident, you can check 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.
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 assistance call 000 or the SES at 132 500.
What Other Financial Support Is Available?
Resilience NSW also offers a disaster relief grant for those whose homes or essential household items have been damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. You can call 13 77 88 to find 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 damage caused and retaining any samples of damaged property before starting to clean up.