If tuning into the news cycle has begun to fill you with dread, know that you're not alone. Over the past couple of weeks (don't get us started on the last three years) it can feel like the world is jumping from one tragedy to the next. There's Russia's distressing attack on Ukraine, the devastating flashing flooding taking place across the east coast of Australia, and then an IPCC report putting this natural disaster down as just a taste of what's to come if Australia fails to implement an immediate and meaningful plan to target our carbon emissions.
Some of us are experiencing this turbulence first hand and others vicariously through loved ones or even social media. There is no doubt that it's a difficult time and with relentless turmoil, it can be easy to slip into a mindset of "it never ends". What we know is this: action and community are essential in cutting through feelings of hopelessness, for ourselves and those at the heart of these tragedies. Just as is the case for Ukraine, if you are in a position to do so, below we're bringing you myriad ways to help communities affected by flash flooding in Australia.
Who is affected by the flash floods?
Over the last week regions across Queensland and New South Wales have experienced severe flooding like none before. It's a weather phenomenon that's be put down to a mix of La Niña and of course, the climate crisis. Over a year's worth of rain has fallen in a matter of days. So far, there have been three deaths in Brisbane as the city was inundated with flood waters over the weekend, two people have also died in Gympie where the town recorded its highest flood in over a century, bringing the total death toll in Queensland to eight at the time of writing. On top of this, more than 15,000 homes have been flooded in Brisbane and more than 54,000 are without power.
From K'gari to Byron Bay, the deluge has been non-stop. Many have lost everything they own, particularly communities in Ballina, Grafton and Lismore who were inundated with rain, and areas like Brunswick Heads, and Mullumbimby among others are left reeling after evacuation orders were put in place for Monday, 28 February. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the weather conditions are believed to continue down south wreaking havoc across the Mid North Coast, Riverina, and the Central Coast, before arriving in Sydney.
How can I help?
There are many grassroots initiatives from which you can support communities affected by the hazardous flash flooding. Before we get into them it's important to note that the Federal Government has announced financial assistance for those affected by the floods in NSW and QLD. This can be accessed through the Services Australia website, with options for each region affected. On this website you can also access lifesaving information about how to prepare for flooding if your region has been issued with a weather warning, and on that note, if it can be avoided, steer clear of flood water and mud as much as possible.
Outside these initiatives, many individuals are calling out for assistance over social media, so if you can safely do so, why not reach out? Otherwise, small things like lending a hand to your neighbour and checking in with your friends who have been impacted can do wonders.
A call out to all fashion wholesalers and retailers, Thread Together is collecting and distributing quality clothing to communities in south east Queensland and Lismore who have lost everything except the wet clothes on their back. At the moment they're in desperate need of children's clothing from underwear to pyjamas, socks, and adults clothing in sizes medium plus. If you're unable to send good quality clothing, Thread Together is also taking donations.
As we learned during the 2019-2022 Bushfires, our local emergency services are invaluable and right now they are being pushed to their utmost limits. Your donations will allow these community-based, not-for-profit organisations to access the necessary equipment and resources needed so that their volunteers can assist those affected by the floods, right now.
Another vital community service that goes above and beyond during natural disasters.
Susan and Uti's story is shared by many. Both pensioners in their early seventies, Susan and Uti have lost their car, along with many of their personal belongings to the floods in the Northern Rivers. While waiting for a hot meal at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall flood recovery centre, Uti also sustained a head injury which has "added further trauma to an already traumatic week". All donations help and if you see anyone in similar circumstances, please reach out or share their stories for a broader reach.
Donation drop off points
Imbibe: 9/7 Grevillea Street, Byron Bay NSW 2481
- Accepting good quality clothing, food, toiletries, pillows, blankets, doonas, towels.
Newrybar Community Hall: 13/15 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar NSW 2470
- Accepting non-perishable food like cup-of-soups and muesli bars, and toiletries. No longer in need of clothing.
Hotel Brunswick: 4 Mullumbimbi Street, Brunswick Heads NSW 2483
- Accepting milk, clothes, sheets, pillows and blankets. Offering food and a place to rest for all who need it.
Nu Natives: 27 Lemana Lane, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220
- From 9am to 2pm, Thursday 3/3 and Friday 4/3: Accepting bedding, towels, shoes and socks, new underwear, new toiletries, torches and batteries, pet food, prams and baby car seats.
Brisbane City Council is calling on volunteers to sign up to the Mud Army 2.0 and help clean up Brisbane from the devastating floods like it did back in 2011.