“I always thought the water would go somewhere, but not in the house.”

Emergency Services

“I always thought the water would go somewhere, but not in the house.”

When Priscilla had to leave her home in Ballina, NSW, as floodwaters rose, Red Cross was there for her.

Priscilla greeting local Australian Red Cross Volunteer Kerrie after the floods. Photo: Tajette O’Halloran

At 2:22am, Priscilla received a flood evacuation warning to leave her home in Ballina, NSW.

In shock and not really knowing where to go, she grabbed her cat and some food before rushing to the highest part of town at the lighthouse. Together, they sat the night out in the car anxiously waiting until help could arrive later the next day.

“I saw the [Australian Red Cross] Recovery Centre not really knowing what it was, but I walked in there and came across the Red Cross ladies who gave me a big hug and I burst out in tears.”

Priscilla had only lived in the coastal NSW town of Ballina for two and a half years before the 2022 floods struck. Thankfully, Australian Red Cross were on the ground immediately in evacuation centres with a team of volunteers offering psychological first aid to people who were in a state of trauma. 

Our local recovery teams work alongside communities to provide essential, ongoing recovery support to help minimise the psychosocial impacts through the months and years as people rebuild their lives. 

“The most important thing with Red Cross is that they do have the resources that you need and they know so much about previous events that they can actually guide you on the recovery or where to get help, and it was really lovely to get that support,” says Priscilla.

Video: Watch Ron and Fleur talk about their flood response and recovery.

How Australian Red Cross helps after disaster strikes

  • Provides psychosocial and wellbeing support.
  • Supports remote and hard-to-reach places.
  • Prioritises support for disadvantaged and marginalised communities.
  • Connects people with social services and helps them navigate complex recovery systems.
  • Provides training, education, and technical advice to strengthen recovery practice and support.
  • Advises and educates our emergency services partners and colleagues.
  • Collaborates with governments at all levels.
  • Advocates for policy and practice improvements.

Local knowledge improves recovery

Kerrie from the local Australian Red Cross team has lived in the Northern Rivers region for 20 years and these last floods were the biggest she can remember. For Kerrie, being able to provide a sense of comfort and safety during what is a traumatic time is critical.

“Immediately after a disaster, the community needs shelter … then food, clothing, and toiletries,” says Kerrie.  Then comes the long haul of recovery, which for Priscilla took over 10-months to secure a safe place to live where she could finally resume normal life and start working again. 

Australian Red Cross Volunteer Kerrie with Priscilla. Photo: Tajette O’Halloran

Australian Red Cross recovery programs are designed to meet the unique needs and challenges of local communities. This means encouraging community-led recovery through programs that are flexible to answer the local context and needs. Plus, help them prepare for future disasters.

The good news is that preparation makes a big difference when it comes to the way people respond and recover from disasters. In fact, investment in resilience measures can result in less damage, fewer impacts, and a faster, fairer recovery for those affected.1

The ‘Cleen Up Program’

For over a century, Australian Red Cross has developed and refined its approach to supporting communities before, during and after disaster strikes. But this hasn’t been done alone and important corporate partners provide invaluable support.

This includes Pine O Cleen and the ‘Cleen Up Program’ that supports our recovery efforts. The partnership helps provide financial aid, volunteer funding and product donations for individuals, communities, and volunteers after disaster strikes.

You can find many other important partnership benefits in the detailed report below.

file_download Download The 'Cleen Up' Recovery Report

Together, we’re making a real-life difference

Local Recovery Officer, James, who’s been working closely with Priscilla and other flood affected people in the Northern Rivers region says your generosity can change lives.

“Your help goes a long, long way into improving people's lives right here on the ground in that time of adversity to help them piece their lives back together.”

Thanks to our generous supporters, Australian Red Cross emergency response teams can be ready to help 24/7, 365 days a year.

1 Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, Special report: Update to the economic costs of natural disasters in Australia (Deloitte, 2021)

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