The support of volunteers in recovery

In the middle of one of the worst floods in Australia’s recorded history, the power of community and the miracle of life.
From left: Rosemary, Mark, Sandra and Cheryl. Rosemary and Cheryl are long-serving Red Cross volunteers in the Northern Rivers region.

After barely recovering from the first flood that hit the Northern Rivers in late February, Mark was supporting his daughter Tina and some of her older children living in a row of caravans in TuckiTucki.

Mark’s property, in Coraki, along the Richmond River, was uninhabitable after the first flood, and the family were waiting on support to clean the house to be able to move back in.

Then the second flood hit. Tina was heavily pregnant, but couldn’t have known she would give birth almost two months early to her baby boy. “From caravan to hospital,” jokes Mark’s partner Sandra.

Because of the floods, it was difficult to get Tina to hospital, Mark recounts. “The kids came out and they said ‘Mummy’s waters break’. Nate [Tina’s partner] and I looked at each other and said ‘Bit early still’. Then I heard him say ‘That’s not water, that’s blood’. He raced up and grabbed the car but he got car bogged because it was so muddy still.

The family were lucky to get an ambulance quickly, and Tina delivered baby Riley safely. And after spending some time in NICU, Tina and Riley (who the family now affectionately call Peanut) were able to return home.

It was by chance Red Cross volunteers happened on the family the day Riley had been born. Rosemary, a long-standing volunteer in Coraki knew Mark’s mum, 92-year-old Heather had a property next door to Mark and went to find and support her.

“We just found these people who were just getting on with getting on with it. When we heard what had happened, we couldn't believe it.

“They had been going to Casino for supplies, so we let them know what was available in Coraki – showers and washing machines.”

“I had no power for eight weeks,” says Sandra. “No hot water, it was horrible. I was so glad to get down to Coraki to have a shower.”

Rosemary and the Coraki volunteers have continued to support the family, bringing premmie clothes for Riley, easter eggs for the older children, toiletries and more. “You have been marvellous,” beams Sandra. “And the kids absolutely loved it.”

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