ABOVE: A home in Broadwater after the floods.
A project led by locals aims to raise $50million to help flooded communities.
The project was born out of the frustration over the lack of funding to rebuild homes after the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation released flood maps that showed priority areas that excluded most of the damaged homes.
The 6000 homes that were promised would be helped has been reduced to 1100 buybacks and only 349 house raises or retrofits.
In response, the Hands & Hearts Project was launched on Wednesday, June 28.
One of the founders Lyndall Murray said she wanted the community to know they were not alone.
“We’re going to raise $50million and get this done ourselves. Our first goal is $1million,” Ms Murray said.
The project recognises the need for urgent action.
“We are still on the frontline,” she said.
Ms Murray knows a 78 year old pensioner who is forced to live in a broken house with tiles cutting his feet.
“It’s heart-wrenching, and we refuse to let this go unnoticed. But we won’t be defeated,” she said.
“Just like when triple zero failed us, we rose above that and stood strong. Now, we’re rallying together, raising funds, and taking matters into our own hands to fix these homes.”
The Hands & Hearts Project aims to repair 100 homes in 10 days on July 22–31.
“We’ve gathered a team of 150 skilled tradespeople and 350 capable volunteers who are ready to lend their expertise and support,” Ms Murray said.
The project has had more than 100 residents apply for help to restore their home into a liveable condition through the project’s application process.
Since the phone calls going out from the NRRC (telling people they are ineligible for financial help), we’ve been inundated, Ms Murray said.
“Flood impacted residents have on one hand applied to get help to fix their homes, then immediately signed up to volunteer.”
“That community spirit is what warms our hearts.”
The Hands & Hearts Project is driven by passionate individuals from Woodburn, Tweed and other affected areas.
“As a community volunteer group, we are really worried about the mental health impact on the 5000 community members, knowing that suicide rates typically increase by 23% following a natural disaster, with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster,” Ms Murray said.
“We may feel forgotten, frustrated, and heartbroken, but our spirit remains unbroken. Together, we’ll rewrite our story and create a future filled with hope and restored dignity.”
Who is involved in Hearts & Hands?
Mick Fanning is a three-time World Surf League champion. In the Woodburn, Coraki, Broadwater area, he is affectionately known as big brother Mick who helped in the aftermath of the floods.
Joining Mick in the Hands & Hearts Project is Mish Canning, Natasha Shearer, Bianca Rayner, Krystal Lee and Lyndall Murray. Read more about them here.
How you can help:
Donate money, materials or time by visiting the Hands & Hearts website.
Follow the journey on Instagram.