Flood News: a personal story

Last week, Coastbeat asked northern NSW resident Gina Lopez if she would share her experience of the floods with us. Today it is raining again in the northern rivers, with flooded areas on high alert, again. As Gina says, problems caused by extreme weather events will not dry up and vanish. Community members have carried the weight of the rescue missions; now it is time for the government to step up.

Read Gina’s personal account. At the bottom of this article you will find links and information about flood appeals and how you can help.

Gina: Hello. Let me know if this is a bit heavy for you – I can give more community stories. I am on day 12 of being at home and only managed to get out to the farm and grab a few things… So I am quite isolated. Feel free to piece this together to be a bit more conversational.

Cb: How are you feeling a week after the floods?

Relieved that the water has receded and that we can start to get on with the clean up. It is surreal, apocalyptic, devastating… Yet, there are these moments that change you, a view from above, seeing the oneness in the loss, yourself struggling like many creatures, plants, insects, ecosystems, all in this together, the future has reached us and it is now a risk we need to manage.

It’s still happening, we are still flooded in and cannot leave by car but we can kayak out so have managed to get some food in.  

The first responders are us

Cb: Can you describe the extent of the damage? 

Roads are becoming clear and we are moving towards assessing the extent of the damage. We are still trying to contemplate the damage for our communities, people’s stories are starting to be heard, but there are so many…

We were lucky, water came 1 metre into the house. However, as this is a flood plain our house has been built to withstand it. We lost a lot of stuff as we were ill-prepared for the extent of the water height. Our neighbour, who has lived here for over 50 years, has never seen it this high. It was over half a metre above the previous top levels.

Extreme weather events are here

Property damage is extensive and we are still coming to terms with it. Fencing is a huge issue being a region with so much cattle.

Cb: What has been the response in the community? 

The community has come together with food, basic needs and clean ups. Lots of individuals and families are coming to help in all kinds of ways. There has been lots of offerings of help; a community spirit is present. Ulmarra food co has been a drop-off point for goods.

Cb: What are some of the lessons this tragedy has taught you? 

The first responders are us, this is now clear when an event like this happens. This has changed our perspective on what “readiness” is and what we need to do to stay prepared.

Many areas are now designated flood plains. Extreme weather events are here and we need to build self sufficient communities that have the resources to pull together in an emergency. The frequency of events in our area are increasing in severity.

Regardless of whether you live in a city, apartment or farm, your access to food is at risk with extreme weather.

Food security is not a future issue, it is happening now. We need to increase to growing capacity within our region and build ecosystems that are resilient to natural disaster 

5. Anything further you’d like to share?

Regardless of whether you live in a city, apartment or farm, your access to food is at risk with extreme weather. We are all interdependent, reliant on each other to thrive. As farmers at Chaffin Creek Farm we are working on regenerating country by building the lands capacity to withstand a changing climate, increasing the food security for our region.

Cb: Thank you Gina.

If you would like to donate to a flood fund, see our article here and here. The ABC has a comprehensive list and information on trustworthy appeals.