NSW Northern Rivers community comes together on first anniversary of flood disaster

Mark O’Toole was plucked from the roof of his Bungawalbin home in northern New South Wales exactly 12 months ago.카지노사이트

In footage that captured the nation’s attention, his bare legs dangled above metres of churning floodwater as soldiers rescued him by helicopter.

“The flood was the easy part,” Mr O’Toole said.

“It’s living with what the floods left us with — that’s really hard.”

The floods that ravaged South-East Queensland and parts of New South Wales between February and March last year were “indisputably the costliest in our nation’s history”, according to an Insurance Council of Australia report.

Thousands of people remain displaced across the Northern Rivers region.

Even those who are back in their homes are living in makeshift, sometimes unsafe, circumstances.

South Lismore resident Jenna Breeze, her husband Shannon, and their five-year-old daughter Raelene are living in a government caravan in their backyard.

Their ravaged home, which they purchased just three years before the disaster, remains a shell — with no walls and no bathroom.

“I often wish we never bought this house,” she said.

“I feel like I’m shackled to it, and we can’t move on.”

Ms Breeze is one of the 6,000 residents who have applied to the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRCC) for funding to help with buyback, housing raising, or retrofitting.

The $700 million Resilient Homes package was announced in October.

NRRC boss David Witherdin said in an interview last week that just one voluntary buyback had been offered so far and a “handful” would follow within the week.

Like many, Ms Breeze was still waiting to learn if she was eligible.

The waiting added pain to injury.

“We’ve both suffered from [post-traumatic stress disorder] and we’re not alone in that,” Ms Breeze said.

On the other side of Lismore’s Wilson River, her parents are living in tents erected inside their home.

“It’s tough when you have your own issues to cope with, and then seeing your family go through hardship,” she said.

“I want them to be in a house and comfortable.”

The desire for a home was something that spanned generations of the Breeze family.

“Mummy, what’s taking the house so long?” Ms Breeze recalled five-year-old Raelene asking her.

“That is hard to hear,” she said.

These questions of timing were all too familiar to residents of the Northern Rivers.

“Nothing has moved forward,” Mr O’Toole said.

The father of four said he was living in his gutted-out home while his kids stayed with friends and family.

“We’ve never been apart,” he said.

“Now we’ve been apart for 12 months, and it’s really getting hard on us.바카라사이트

“Family life, in general, has broken down a lot [for many people] and it’s flowing through the schools — they’re having trouble.”

An event has been organised to “provide the community with the opportunity to reflect, commemorate and heal” at Lismore’s Mortimer Oval this evening.

Event organisers said Lifeline councillors would be there to help anybody being triggered by discussions of the disaster.

Bianca Pope, whose image became synonymous with the disaster when she was captured on camera walking across a bridge cradling her large dog, Nahla, in her arms, said returning to that bridge brought up terrible memories.

“If it’s a foggy morning, I’ll almost start being sick in the car because it looks like water and it’s not,” she said.

Ms Pope said she had been focused on rebuilding two family homes and was worried about not having processed the trauma of the disaster.

“There are days when you don’t want to get out of bed,” she said.

“There are days when you don’t even want to be in this world because you walk outside and there are houses broken, shops broken.

“But then, when you go away to a city and see normality you go ‘Wow’.”

Ms Pope said the experience made her grateful for the smallest things.

“Fresh water … when you can get it out of your tap,” she said.

“It’s weird thinking that the highs … are an everyday essential.”온라인카지노

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