Byron Shire’s deputy mayor says locals had little warning about the damaging conditions that flooded the region for the second time in a month earlier this week.
Sarah Ndiayae has praised the support offered so far by the state and federal governments but says the poor preparation was the result of Canberra’s cuts to publicly funded agencies like the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.
“They [the Bureau] removed the flood warning from Mullumbimby and said that the weather had cleared so a lot of our community were caught out,” Cr Ndiayae said.
“That was really a shock to people. It was really hard to take after everything we’ve gone through and there’s been so many conversations about where the system failed us in the first place.”
She said the community was both exhausted by the double floods and buoyed by the cooperative spirit between people.
The Mullumbimby high school teacher said the area desperately needed short-term to long-term housing fixes as the Easter holidays approached and flood refugees would be forced out of short-term stays.
Her school would remain open but there were others across the region that would be forced to shut, adding even more disruption to the lives of young students who had already lived through two years of COVID-19.
“I’m really worried about my community and how we’re going to fare over the next little while,” Cr Ndiayae said.
Windy weather and high tides are forecast for NSW over the first weekend of April after record rainfall last month.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued weather warnings for damaging winds affecting southern and central parts of the state on Saturday, along with hazardous surf and abnormally high tides, as residents in the north rebuild again as flood levels recede.
Emergency crews are still working across the state with the State Emergency Service performing six flood rescues in the 24 hours up to 5am this morning.
The agency also received 468 calls for help over that period.
Moderate to heavy rainfalls are likely along the south coast but exact amounts will depend on the movement of the Tasman low pressure system.
But the winds will ease on Sunday as the low moves further south, with Sydney expected to be sunny for a few days next week.
Lismore Council is advising residents not to travel to the city’s CBD to allow the SES to remove hazardous materials.
The Council said a one-stop shop recovery centre for flood victims helping with accommodation, providing financial assistance and offering mental health services will reopen following the latest round of floods.