The storm was bad up here, but seems to have gotten worse as it moved south. This picture of a flooded car was taken near Kempsey.
The storm was bad up here, but seems to have gotten worse as it moved south. This picture of a flooded car was taken near Kempsey.

Disaster assistance announced for Ballina, Byron, Clarence

THE Ballina, Byron, and Clarence Valley council areas will all receive disaster funding to help recover from damage done by wild storms that swept over the Northern Rivers late last week.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced the three Northern Rivers councils would be among 11 local government areas to receive disaster funding for the storm.

The funding does not extend to the Lismore and Richmond Valley local government areas, which have both suffered minor to moderate flooding.

Posting on The Northern Star's Facebook Page, Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said her council expected to lodge its damages bill with the State Government today in the hope of also receiving disaster assistance.

Byron Shire Council community infrastructure executive manager Phil Holloway today said council workers in Byron had received 150 calls for help between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. The council had estimated the damage to public infrastructure at about $1.1 million.

No similar dollar figure was available for Ballina Shire Council, but the damage it suffered was severe with winds measured at up to 160km/h ripping roofs from buildings and tearing down trees.

At the height of the storm, Essential Energy reported power had been cut to tens of thousands of its customers on the Far North Coast. On Friday, the Ballina State Emergency Service said it had received 160 calls for help between 12.30pm and 2.30pm alone.

The Clarence has suffered heavy flooding, leading to the death of a 73-year-old man at Copmanhurst on Sunday.

In their joint statement, Ms Gillard and Mr O'Farrell said disaster assistance would also be made available to the Bellingen, Camden, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kiama, Nambucca, Port Macquarie/Hastings, and Randwick councils.

The disaster assistance is intended to help councils cover the cost of damage to public infrastructure and provide relief to families, business owners, and primary producers who have suffered as a result of the storms. 

Further disaster declarations were expected to be made in the coming days, Ms Gillard and Mr O'Farrell said.



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