ABOVE: Woodburn was severely flooded in 2022. Photo: Contributed
“Like our community members, I too am disappointed.”
State MP Janelle Saffin has expressed what is being felt across the region after the promised 2000 buybacks for flood-impacted homes have apparently been cut to 1091.
In Richmond Valley, 64 buybacks are expected to go ahead, according to Federal MP Kevin Hogan’s office. There were 82 more supposed to happen but are now uncertain.
Mr Hogan said there were originally 2058 homes identified for buyback.
“This has now been halved back to 1091. Why?” Mr Hogan said.
“Not because these houses are any safer, but because the Labor Governments are refusing to top up the scheme. When the scheme was announced in October last year it was phase one of the funding. Phase two has been abandoned.”
Abandoned is how residents must feel. For 16 months, homeowners have been waiting to hear what will happen to their homes.
There have been 6471 registrations according to the NRRC online dashboard.
IndyNR.com has made repeated requests to NRRC for specific numbers on buybacks for Richmond Valley including a request on June 8.
Six days later, that information has not been provided.
The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation promised 2000 buybacks, 2000 house-raisings and 2000 retrofits at a meeting in Woodburn in February.
The numbers were straightforward – despite the painfully slow rollout. Not any more.
On June 13, the corporation released flood maps and data about how homes are being assessed and prioritised.
NRRC chief executive David Witherdin said they now had the region’s most comprehensive flood mapping and analysis available.
“The NRRC is in the process of contacting homeowners registered for the Resilient Homes Program and remains on track to inform all homeowners of their prioritisation by mid-year,” Mr Witherdin said.
Lismore Councillor Elly Bird said the information from the NRRC was something that the community had been asking for more than a year.
“The NRRC have had it for all that time. It should have been released much earlier so that people could make decisions about their future,” Ms Bird said.
“Instead, we have a situation where more than 6000 households have been told repeatedly for more than a year to just keep waiting. To keep waiting and keep hoping that they would be offered a pathway to safety. And, while they have waited, they haven’t been able to move forward with their recovery.”
Ms Saffin said she did not understand the data analysis provided by NRRC.
“Really the NRRC should just say we have this amount of funds and we have done the best we can to prioritise the most at risk,” she said.
“The key thing is now to seek the funding for tranche 2, that was mooted at the beginning with then-Premier Perrottet saying it was the start and that would follow and the now-Premier Minns stating that he would back us in.
“Work is underway with us local State MPs and mayors on this. Watch this space – we expect to have more to say on this as a group in the very near future.”
Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt were contacted for comment on funding the flood recovery in Northern Rivers.
“The NRRC has worked with flood experts on the flood mapping using the most up-to-date data from councils, NSW SES and other sources,” Mr Witherdin said.
The maps for Kyogle and Richmond Valley LGAs are below. All maps can be viewed here.
One questions many residents ask is: What if I want to have my home raised or retrofitted instead of a buyback?
The NRRC’s reply to this is:
A homeowner does not have the ability to nominate a particular stream of their choosing.
If a homeowner is assessed by the NRRC as being prioritised for the Home Buyback stream, the Home Raising or Retrofit streams are unavailable.
If you disagree with the NRRC’s decision based on the Resilient Homes Program guidelines, you can lodge an appeal.