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Flood clean-up will be a major challenge

Cleaning up after a flood can be a physically and emotionally demanding job.

Thursday March 8, 2012

Paddocks underwater on a farm in Crowther, NSW. Photo: Sara Morton-Stone.

As the flood threat in New South Wales and northern Victoria moves westwards, Red Cross Emergency Services personnel are helping those communities where people are able to return to their homes to clean-up and begin the recovery process.

Andrew Coghlan, Red Cross National Emergency Services Manager, said cleaning up after a flood can be a physically and emotionally demanding job.

"The aftermath of a natural disaster can be devastating. People need to prepare themselves for the challenge of not only cleaning up and repairing damage to their property but also overcoming the disruption caused to family life and the community," said Mr Coghlan.

"It is natural to be focused your home and possessions but it is important that people also look after themselves. We recommend maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest and returning to a normal routine as much as possible.

"People in flood affected communities will be experiencing a range of emotions, including shock, fear, frustration and helplessness. We would encourage family, friends and neighbours to support each other and share their experiences and feelings about the current crisis.

"Take special care of children as they can pick up on the stress of the situation. Parents should reassure children that they are safe and think about leaving them with friends or family when first returning to a flood damaged house.

"Flood affected communities also need to consider the conditions they will be living and working in for the next few days. Flood waters may be contaminated, so when working in it always wear protective equipment, use disinfectant when cleaning your house and treat any cuts or scrapes quickly."

Over the past week more than 100 Red Cross personnel have been supporting the flood and storm relief effort, including teams of Emergency Services volunteers in Cobram, Numurkah and Shepparton in Victoria, and Wagga Wagga, Forbes, Goulburn, Cooma, Jerilderie and Albury in New South Wales.

"As rivers reach their peak and flood waters slowly start to recede, we will continue to provide support to communities across eastern Australia. Recovery from an emergency can be long and difficult and Red Cross will be there to help communities as they go through this process," said Mr Coglhan.

More information on recovering from an emergency, including a practical guide to Dealing with wind and water damage, is available here.

To support Red Cross emergency services work in helping people and communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters, please donate to Disaster Relief and Recovery.

For media enqiries contact James Molan on 0448 571 484.