Posted by Angela Beutel
Following news of the severe flooding in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Rochester Rotary Club members enlisted their local community to assist three needy communities in the region. Donations of kitchen, bathroom, and laundry products flowed in to assist in the post flood recovery of waterlogged homes – in all, 120 boxes were filled.
Club members came up with the idea of creating flood relief boxes when they realised that the smaller towns such as Woodburn, Coraki and Broadwater were not receiving as much assistance as the larger towns in the region.
Donation boxes placed in and around the businesses of Rochester were quickly filled with requested items such as blankets, doonas, and other household items; even products for those suffering from asthma and to assist with those who were pregnant.
In early June , in our 25 seater Rotary community bus (three quarters full with items and towing the Rotary trailer), four of the Rochester Club members took these boxed goods 1,500 kms direct to a hub that had been established in the town of Woodburn to service the areas of farming and small businesses affected by the flooding. On arrival at the site, the Rochester Rotarians were heartbroken to see people living in tents in muddy paddocks. Some were in their homes but many still without power or bedding.
The temperature was 21 degrees, but the grass was still saturated and the area stank of wet mud. However, the streets were clean and looked as if the floods were part of one’s imagination – until you walked past all the empty shops where cardboard patched the walls to keep the electric wiring secure. The community still felt disbelieving and devastated from the effects of the massive flooding following the torrential rains which had occurred back in February 2022.
Having lost everything including their personal possessions, livestock, ruined crops, machinery and livelihoods, replacement infrastructure and economic recovery and the rebuilding of these communities are several years away.
Community barbeques held in the townships helped many locals talk about their experiences with the visiting Rotarians. There is a long way to go.