Place residence

Flood victims are still waiting for a warm, dry place to live four months after the disaster

A $350 million pledge to house displaced people in northern New South Wales remains largely unfulfilled four months after catastrophic flooding hit the area.

Up to 2,000 pod-style homes have been promised as part of a Northern Rivers package announced in April.

So far only one site in Wollongbar, between Lismore and Ballina, has opened.

It currently houses around 50 people in 34 modules.

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said the rollout of emergency accommodation in the flood-hit area had been “pathetic”.

She blamed Resilience New South Wales for the delays.

“I have no confidence in their ability to deliver anything; they have to get off the road,” Ms Saffin said.

The Premier of NSW with MP for Lismore Janelle Saffin during one of his visits to the upstate after the floods.(ABC News: Rani Hayman)

Ms Saffin said there were immediate solutions if the government was willing to act quickly.

‘We have motorhomes in Lismore in the caravan park and they are testing putting vans in people’s places,’ she said.

“There’s nothing to judge. People want them in their homes.

“A lot of people came out and did their own thing, begging for a van here and there.

“I’ve been very patient, I’ve worked in an absolutely bipartisan way on this, but my patience is running out on behalf of our people.

Temporary accommodation sites

More than 6,200 homes were damaged in record flooding which hit the area on February 28, almost half of them in the Lismore local government area.

In May, the state government released a list of nine pod village sites in the LGAs of Tweed, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Lismore, with two others identified in Byron Shire.

Some of the sites are classified as Crown land, but the majority require a tenancy agreement with the relevant local council.

Lismore Town Council chief executive John Walker said the delay was due to a lack of suitable land.

“But when you understand the question of how do you find the ground to make it happen, then I think it’s explainable but not satisfying.”

ADF staff clean up after the flood
Many properties in areas like Lismore have been uninhabitable since the floods.(PAA: Jason O’Brien)

Mr Walker said council had been asked to approve a pod village on a junior sports ground in Hepburn Park, which is outside the Goonellabah flood zone.

He also said up to 40 housing modules would be ready within weeks on the grounds of Southern Cross University.

Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry said nearly 70 temporary homes would be ready at two sites on the Tweed coast within a month.

Ms. Cherry said she was concerned about how long it was taking.

“It’s supposed to be a very short-term solution, it’s a step up from people sleeping in their car or sleeping in a tent, but it’s not a fantastic solution,” he said. she declared.

NSW Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke gave a statement to the ABC.

She said work at the site was underway on additional temporary accommodations in Pottsville, Evans Head and Southern Cross University.

“No one who has applied for emergency accommodation has been turned away, and as of June 29, 2022, there were 1,261 people in emergency accommodation in northern New South Wales,” Ms. Cooke.

A woman wears a blanket with a hood, sits on a sofa, holds a cup of coffee with both hands
A call has been made for more warm clothing and bedding to help flood victims cope with a cold spell.(ABC North Shore: Bruce MacKenzie)

winter stings

As nighttime temperatures in the region drop to single digits, there has been a surge in demand for warm clothing and bedding for flood victims.

Joel Orchard, from the Wardell Core community volunteer centre, said people living in makeshift accommodation were feeling the winter cold.

“Especially as many people still live in rooms without regular insulation,” he said.

“So I think winter clothing has definitely been a priority, as well as winter bedding.”

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