Salvos respond swiftly to NSW flood emergency
21 March 2021
With heavy rains and a strong deluge threatening homes and businesses along the NSW coast, The Salvation Army has leaped into action.
Multiple evacuation centres have been established between Taree and Nambucca Heads, with The Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) mobilising at the majority of these. Where flooding is preventing our teams access to affected towns, we have been providing remote support.
SAES volunteers and Salvos have been catering to evacuees, volunteers and staff working at these evacuation centres, providing between 50 and 100 meals per sitting (breakfast, lunch, dinner) per site since mobilising on Friday afternoon.
From standby to activation
At 3pm Thursday afternoon, the Salvos Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management (SE&DM) team received warning from the government about the oncoming weather event. Volunteers were put on standby across the state and had activated less than 24 hours later.
SE&DM coordinator for NSW/ACT, Norm Archer, has been training up volunteers and responding to the emergency as it continues to unfold. He says this event has been quicker than many other recent events, rapidly going from normal to an extreme flooding situation.
“That changes the rules. And as much as you’re prepared – if you think you’ve got six hours and you’ve only got three – that increases the stress and difficulty of the situation.”
Access in an emergency like this is another major issue, both for people to leave and for people to come in and help.
“Some of the areas have had record flood peaks in this event, one town recording 300mm in two hours,” says Norm. “So as much as you want to prepare and get ready, the speed of this event has definitely been a challenge for people to overcome.”
“Nothing happens without the efforts of our volunteers and their willingness to put their lives on hold and get involved,” he says. “We’re really thankful for the support of our volunteers yet again and Woolworths, who are our support partners, are providing us a great service.”
Supporting communities as the floodwaters move
For those who have evacuated, there is uncertainty around what they will be coming back to; “We know there’s homes that have got a couple of metres of water through them,” says Norm. “So that means, what the people have with them is what they’ve got.
“I think it’s appropriate to say at this point that this is still a very early phase of this event and the full impact on the communities won’t be known until people and agencies get back in there to assess the damage.”
Norm believes Salvos emergency teams will be operational and at a high level of readiness for the next week as flood waters move throughout the state and from western Queensland.
“So as much as we may wrap-up and finish work because they close one evacuation centre, our volunteers across NSW will be activated and helping communities at the next site where the flood-event causes grief.”
While the deluge continues and we wait to see the full extent of the damage, our Salvation Army volunteers and support staff will remain on the frontlines to assist wherever we are needed.
We urge everyone to take care and will continue to bring you developments as we learn more. If you, or someone you know, is in need of support, please do not hesitate to reach out to our teams, the emergency service men and women on the frontlines, or call 000 in an emergency.
The Australian Government is now providing cash grants of $1000 per adult and $400 per child to eligible people affected by the NSW storm and floods. To learn more and to see if you are eligible go to: https://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/disasters/current-disasters/New-South-Wales/storms-floods-10-March-2021-onwards.aspx
Please also check our website regularly for further updates.