Firstly, I must acknowledge the extreme trauma people have experienced, in these never-seen-before extreme events. Homes flooded, family heirlooms lost, extensive damage to fences, livestock, crops, roads, and the list goes on and on. It will take time, but our community will recover with the help of friends, family and a caring community.
Our thoughts and actions must also go to our neighbouring communities, such as the devastation seen at Eugowra and the repeated flooding of the Lachlan towns. Communities from everywhere, including our own, have offered to help in so many ways and we must continue to do so.
There are so many people to thank, it's hard to know where to begin, but firstly to the members of the community who have provided and continue to provide the much-needed support, taking in washing, helping with clean-ups, making lunches, donating clothes, food, bedding and so much more. There have been acts of kindness too extensive to capture.
Our businesses must also be recognised. They have been so generous with donations and support; it is just amazing. We will endeavour to recognise these businesses in due course, but presently there are too many to mention.
Then the volunteers from across the state, supporting SES, RFS and other services. There are also people from Singapore, New Zealand and the Philippines supporting our Emergency services operations. The help from across the country and internationally is humbling. The Australian Defence Forces are also coming in to provide support, for which we are very grateful. The rapid relief team have also done a great job.
All the State services are also assembling and will be a great support in the recovery phase.
Of a more practical nature, please be aware of the following:
- Resilience NSW are setting up in the Hall at the High School (corner of Albert/Orange Streets) and will be available to provide information on the range of assistance available, including Rural Assistance.
- Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements - Category D (the highest Category) was announced by the Premier on Friday. This allows access for farmers and residents to access the highest level of assistance possible.
- The Boiled Water alert on the Forbes to Tottenham pipeline remains in place until its removal by the NSW Department of Health.
- The Parkes Tip will be open on Monday (normally closed) to assist with flood clean-up, from 8:30am - 8:00pm.
- Council is prioritising road repair that restores access to residents as our current priority. Other issues will be addressed as resources are available.
- Motorists are continuing to use closed roads - please refrain from doing so. There are reasons roads are closed, including your safety, so please have some consideration during this time.
- Motorists are continuing to drive through flood water. Recent events have been so extreme that is possible, and even probable, that the underlying road or structure is extensively damaged. Please avoid driving or walking through flood water.
The Parkes Chamber of Commerce has met with Council to start looking at how we now start the economic recovery, not just for Parkes, but how we extend that out to our neighbouring towns. Strategies such as the Shop in The Region programs, encouraging Apprenticeship programs to strengthen our trades, working with insurance companies to ensure fair treatment, and so forth are all on the table.
It will be a long hard road, more so for some than others, but as a Council we will help where we can. As Mayor, I will fight for fair treatment for all our residents.
Ken Keith, OAM
Mayor of Parkes Shire