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NSW Floods: Extent of needs emerging through anecdotal evidence

27 March 2021

Specialist teams of Australian Red Cross volunteers and staff have been told of people’s distress about a lack of access to mental health services and concerns about the dual impacts of bushfires and floods across NSW.

As clean up and recovery efforts begin, Red Cross teams deployed to evacuation centres this week have received anecdotal evidence about the needs of the communities impacted by the floods. 

“Our volunteers have heard stories about the distress about leaving homes, livestock and even a change of clothes behind,” says Red Cross NSW Director Poppy Brown. 

“Many of these communities have already endured years of concurrent disasters, from drought, bushfires, COVID-19 and now floods. The impact of this latest disaster is expected to be significant.” 

Among the concerns raised to Red Cross volunteers around the state: 

  • A lack of access to mental health services, and drug and alcohol support services 
  • A strain on accommodation options, particularly following on from the Black Summer bushfires 
  • Anxiety over the inability to return to homes 
  • Distress at the number of dead animals and livestock 

With those impacted by the floods beginning to return to their homes, Red Cross urges them to keep children away from the clean-up, carefully wash hands and disinfect any cuts, wear protective equipment and watch out for potential dangers – including trees, power lines and spiders. 

“The days and weeks ahead may prove tough as people start clean-ups where water levels have receded,” Ms Brown says.  

“We advise people to take advantage of the support that’s available, including from Red Cross people in evacuation centres, recovery hubs and during outreach activities over the coming weeks.” 

Australian Red Cross has launched an appeal for funds to assist people affected by the NSW floods. Dependent on ongoing needs assessment, and amount raised, support could include disaster relief (including practical and financial assistance) and supporting people and communities to recover and build resilience to disasters. 

Donations can be made by visiting redcross.org.au/NSWfloods  

Red Cross has resources redcross.org.au/emergency-resources to assist people affected by emergencies.  

For more information, or interview requests, please contact 1800 733 443 or media@redcross.org.au