Joint Commonwealth/State Assistance Following Storms

Commonwealth Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott today announced that disaster assistance has been activated in response to storms and floods that have wreaked havoc along the east coast.

“A range of assistance is being made available through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA),” Mr Keenan said.

“The Australian and NSW governments recognise the need to provide swift and effective assistance to help communities and families deal with and recover from these storms and floods.

“Natural disasters such as this can be unpredictable and I commend the efforts of emergency services personnel and the resilience displayed by affected communities during this difficult time,” Mr Keenan said.

Assistance has been activated in the local government areas of Cessnock, Dungog, Gosford, Great Lakes, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle, Pittwater, Port Stephens, Singleton, Warringah and Wyong.

Mr Elliott said individuals and families impacted by the storms and floods can access personal hardship assistance payments from today.

“These communities have experienced unprecedented weather conditions over the last 48 hours,” Mr Elliott said.

“This assistance will ensure people have access to food, clothing and personal items in the immediate aftermath of the storms and floods.  It will also provide assistance for accommodation and the replacement of essential household contents, such as bedding and furniture, and structural repairs to homes damaged by the storms and floods.”

“Councils will also have access to funding for counter disaster operations such as sandbagging and repairing damaged essential infrastructure,” Mr Elliott said.

“This assistance will help ease the financial burden on councils associated with undertaking these vital operations to ensure essential infrastructure is repaired.  This is critical to communities returning to normal functioning as quickly as possible.

“While conditions are expected to ease, I encourage residents to remain vigilant and heed the advice of local authorities. As the full effects of this emergency are still unfolding, further areas may be affected.” Mr Elliott said.

The Australian and NSW governments will continue to monitor the situation and extend assistance to other areas as required to ensure that communities receive the assistance they need to recover.

For information about disaster relief grants for contents and structural repairs, available to low income earners with no insurance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

If you are in a life threatening situation call 000 (triple zero) or for general help in a flood or storm, call the SES on 132 500.

The Public Information Inquiry Centre has also been opened to take calls from the public about the flood affected areas in NSW.

Information on disaster assistance available for this natural disaster can be found on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and the NSW Ministry for Police and Emergency services website at www.mpes.nsw.gov.au/nddassistance.