East coast floods take a major toll on lives and livelihoods

Claims race towards 100,000 with a recovery bill in excess of 3 billion dollars a real possibility as insurance premiums set to rise by 30% plus in the short term

A major payout by the insurance industry following devastating eastern Australian flooding will set premiums through the roof for all policy holders whether country or city based

Representatives from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and its members will be in Lismore NSW on Monday 7 March to assist policyholders impacted by the devastating floods.

The widespread flooding in the Northern Rivers District of NSW saw the city evacuated as the Wilsons River broke its levee last Sunday night.

The entire Lismore CBD was inundated after days of unrelenting torrential rain, which saw the river peak at 13.5 metres on Monday night, leading to the city’s worst flooding in nearly 50 years.

ICA and its members were today given clearance from State Emergency Services to enter the city, with plans now underway to ensure property owners receive the timely information and help needed to get the claims process started.

Eligible customers in urgent need can now receive an advance cash payment of up to $5,000 and may also be able to access temporary accommodation under their policy.

Andrew Hall, CEO, Insurance Council of Australia said, “The impacts in Lismore are incredibly distressing, and we understand the timely nature of getting personnel on the ground as soon as possible to assist policyholders in the claims process.

“We want to make this process as simple as possible for the people of Lismore, who are already suffering tremendous losses as a result of these devastating floods.

“As we have heard once again today, this time from Lismore mayor, Steve Krieg, we need to do better at protecting homes, business and communities from the impacts of extreme weather.

“We once again call on the Federal Government to increase its resilience investment to $200 million a year, and that the states and territories commit to matching this investment, “ Andrew Hall concluded.

The Insurance Council outlined the investment needed in its election policy document, Building a More Resilient Australia, release on 22 February 2022.

As of midday Friday (4 March 2022) insurers had received 67,537 claims related to flood in South-East Queensland and New South Wales. ICA will continue to collect claims data each day and provide updates on a regular basis.

The Salvation Army has launched a Flood Appeal aiming to raise $10 million

Short term relief

The Salvation Army has already served over 20,000 meals in flood-affected regions, and the Salvos Flood Appeal aims to raise $10 million.

The Salvation Army has released $1 million immediately from its Red Shield Appeal funds in support of communities along the east coast of Australia.

As damaging weather ravages the east coast of Australia and thousands of Aussies have become displaced from their homes, The Salvation Army continues to evacuation centres across NSW and Queensland, already providing over 20,000 meals for first responders and evacuees.

The Salvation Army have also launched a Flood Appeal aiming to raise $10 million which will directly support the estimated more than 18,000 homes expected to be impacted during these unprecedented floods.

The Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) currently have 10 teams assisting at 10 evacuation centres across Queensland and NSW. The SAES is supporting first responders and evacuees with meals, emotional and practical support.

Current evacuation sites where the SAES are assisting include Nambour, Gympie (two locations), Ipswich, Caboolture, Dalkabin, Chandler, Logan, Lismore and Tweed Heads.

“Salvation Army personnel are on the ground right now providing thousands of meals for those impacted by floods across the east coast. In addition to meals, our teams are offering emotional support, which is well received by those displaced from their homes,” says Major Bruce Harmer, National Public Relations Secretary for The Salvation Army.

After the initial emergency response phase, The Salvation Army will remain in communities for the long term to ensure the many local communities impacted by these floods are supported practically and emotionally through the recovery and rebuild phases of this disaster.

“The Salvation Army is calling on the public for donations to help ensure we can support those devastated by these floods get back on their feet,” says Major Harmer.

The services that will be made available will include teams of case workers who will be mobilised to affected locations and will work directly with individuals and families to provide grants, financial support and acute care for the duration of the recovery journey.

“We have seen in the past two years, through bushfires, floods, drought and COVID-19, the spirit of generosity shown in times of hardship. We are calling again on the Australians to help us be there for the incredible number of people displaced by the floods. Please, if you are able, give to The Salvation Army’s 2022 Flood Appeal”, says Major Harmer.

To donate to The Salvation Army’s Flood Appeal, please use this link.

You can round up your purchase at any Woolworths checkout in NSW and QLD or donate at any register throughout the country. Alternatively, you can also round up your in store purchases at any Myer retail outlet nationally.

Government regulated support

An initial support package for flood-affected communities across New South Wales was released on 3 March to support farmers, businesses and local councils to recover and rebuild.

This initial $434.7 million of funding from the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments is provided to support communities clean up and remove damage and debris, as well as further support local government areas (LGAs) that have been flood-affected.

Grants of up to $75,000 for primary producers and up to $50,000 for small businesses and not for profit organisations devastated by flooding are available through NSW Government agencies, with registration now open through Service NSW. This program will be demand driven.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this package is just the first phase of the financial support that will support communities in need.

“We will be there to help farmers, small businesses and every community in New South Wales to get back on their feet as soon as possible when flood waters recede,” the Prime Minister said.

“Farmers will need to restock and rebuild and small businesses will need help replacing damaged goods and shop fronts, and when more support is needed, more support will be given.

“I have already asked the New South Wales Premier to provide my Government with a proposal for a second support package to ensure all communities get the support they need.

“We are working with Queensland on what support will be made available under Category D funding, ensuring communities receive the funding they require to rebuild, and my Government has requested a proposal of projects from the Queensland Government.

“This initial package is in addition to the federally funded $1,000 disaster relief payment and the 13-week income replacement for employees and small business, which to date has already paid out almost $63 million in a matter of days.”

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government stood ready to support communities hit hard by the floods across the State.

“We activated these measures during the 2021 floods, and we have done so again – they are large grants that will get much-needed funds to people quickly to provide some relief and assistance,” Premier Perrottet said.

“We know these supports will have an immediate positive effect and I would encourage anyone in NSW impacted by these awful floods to please contact Service NSW and find out what you are eligible for.”

Seventeen LGAs have been declared as disaster areas and are eligible for support through Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

“In addition to the funding now available, Service NSW offers a one-stop shop for all information and support on disaster assistance by phoning 13 77 88 or online via service.nsw.gov.au.”

People in NSW requiring assistance are urged to contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 or online at: www.service.nsw.gov.au/floods.

People and businesses can register their interest for these grant programs through Service NSW, with funding available through NSW Government agencies at: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/storm-and-flood-assistance-businesses

The phase one package includes:

  • Demand driven – $75,000 grants to assist primary producers that have suffered direct damage from the recent severe weather and flooding. NSW Government estimate this to initially be $111.5 million.
  • Demand driven – $50,000 grants to assist small business and not-for-profit organisations that have suffered direct damage from the event. NSW Government estimate this to initially be $89.7 million.
  • $210 million to assist affected communities with the clean-up and removal of flood and storm related damage, debris and green waste. This will enable LGAs to work with Resilience NSW and NSW Government agencies to coordinate clean-up activities in their communities.
  • $1 million grants to impacted councils to assist with their immediate social, built, economic and environmental needs. This list may continue to grow.
  • $6.5 million to provide Community Recovery Officers to support communities impacted by this event.

The Commonwealth stands ready to provide similar financial help to victims of the flood disaster in Queensland once a request is received from the Queensland Premier.

Disaster Recovery Payment

The Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance have also been activated in the LGA of Cherbourg in Queensland.

The Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off, non-means tested payment of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child, and is available to eligible people in those affected LGAs who have suffered a significant loss, including a severely damaged or destroyed home or serious injury.

The Disaster Recovery Allowance will also be provided in the same affected LGAs. DRA assists employees and sole traders who experience a loss of income as a direct result of a major disaster. DRA is payable for a maximum of 13 weeks and is taxable.

Minister for Government Services, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said Services Australia has paid over $100 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance to people impacted by the Queensland and New South Wales floods.

Minister Reynolds said, “The easiest and quickest way to claim the Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance is online through myGov. If people require support to claim, they can call the Australian Government Emergency Information Line on 180 22 66.

People who have more immediate priorities in these local government areas have 6 months to claim payments.

Online claiming via myGov is available 24×7. The Australian Government Emergency Information Line is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time and this Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm local time. For more information on support available, visit servicesaustralia.gov.au/disaster

The Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance is currently available in 21 other eligible LGAs in Queensland: Brisbane, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, and Western Downs. 

In NSW, the payments are already available in 17 other eligible LGAs: Armidale, Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Hornsby, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Nambucca, Port Macquarie/Hastings, Richmond, Tenterfield, The Hills and Tweed.