More NSW council areas get disaster pay

More flood-hit parts of NSW are eligible for federal payments to help with recovery as the clean-up from flooding continues.

Residents in a total of 37 council areas are eligible for federal payments up to $1000, after the addition of eight more including Cumberland, Mid Coast, Muswellbrook, Nambucca, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Randwick and Warren.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said support will continue to be made available as the extent of the damage becomes known.


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“This funding will help to provide for immediate needs, including temporary accommodation, food and clothing,” he said.

The payments are exempt from tax and means testing.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the federal and NSW governments were working closely together to support victims of the disaster, and more than 600,000 people affected by the floods had together received in excess of $514 million in payments.

“We want to work with all states and territories when disaster strikes because we know that it’s a long road back for people who are suffering through the current period,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said an independent review of NSW’s preparedness for floods in February and March was due at the end of the month.

“There’s no doubt these events are becoming more prevalent,” he said.

“A lot of (the review) will focus on the immediate response to these disasters but there’s no doubt there will be a medium to long-term focus.”

When asked about the possibility of relocating people from flood-prone areas, particularly Lismore in northern NSW, Mr Albanese said preliminary discussions had taken place between the state and federal governments with an informal discussion about planning.

“I don’t think we’ve had a discussion about relocating the whole of Lismore,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said his government would make sure not to repeat “mistakes of the past”.

As well as the heavy rain and wild winds that lashed the state last week, hazardous surf also caused coastal erosion in some areas.

The beach has almost disappeared at North Cronulla, where the council called in a crane to move a lifeguard tower in danger of toppling over.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, tenants of flood-affected social housing in Lismore returned home after the properties were rendered uninhabitable in February.

The NSW government said on Tuesday that 73 properties were ready for residents to move back into after repairs.

Roma Gooch, an 88-year-old resident whose home was significantly damaged during the floods earlier this year, moved back into a housing complex for seniors in East Lismore.

“After losing so much in the floods, it has been marvellous to come back home and see everything repaired and looking very nice,” she said.

In March, authorities received widespread criticism of the handling of the crisis after people were left stranded on roofs in Lismore when floodwaters peaked at a record-breaking 14.4 metres.

Months later, Fire and Rescue NSW are using drones to survey flood debris in the northern rivers, helping cane farmers clear their paddocks.

Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said farmers have been finding fridges, gas cylinders, shipping containers and in one case even a swimming pool in their fields.

“This sort of debris could damage farming equipment like harvesters and risk ruining harvest season activities, which is the last thing our growers need after being impacted by the floods,” she said.

© AAP 2022