CATASTROPHIC: Tom Cooper of Bonalbo is disappointed that disaster relief assistance has not been granted to Kyogle Shire residents.
CATASTROPHIC: Tom Cooper of Bonalbo is disappointed that disaster relief assistance has not been granted to Kyogle Shire residents. Cathy Adams

Flood funding a trickle

BONALBO dairy farmer Tom Cooper says his town is struggling financially after slipping through the disaster relief funding cracks following the two major flood events this year.

While the area has benefited from the funding associated with the shire being disaster declared, the extent of damage across the Kyogle Shire was not enough for it to qualify for the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS) to individual affected residents.

"The DIRS income assistance has now been granted to 12 other shires, so we've virtually been surrounded by it all, but of course the weather didn't stop at the Kyogle border," Mr Cooper said.

Some towns on the western fringe of Kyogle Shire, such as Bonalbo and Tabulam, received some of the worst flooding ever recorded.

"The impact of the rain between the two events has been absolutely catastrophic on dairy and beef production around Bonalbo, and there's been a lot of crops lost as well, and when the farmers have got no money they're not spending in the towns either," said Mr Cooper.

Compounding the situation is the landslip on the Bonalbo to Tabulam road which has effectively isolated the town economically.

"Bonalbo is the second biggest community in the Kyogle area and a lot of the business comes from the Tabulam and Drake areas, but since the road slip, people are now going straight through to Casino," Mr Cooper said.

"So all these people who are logging or earth moving contractors, or people who come and plant my winter feed, they haven't been able to do anything now for two months - the money's stopped altogether. The whole economy has ground to a halt. That's why we're over here (at Lismore Farmers' Market) trying to do a bit of business - we can move our business a little bit but it's still going backwards."

Kyogle Shire mayor Ross Brown empathised with Mr Cooper and said everything was being done to rectify the situation.

"Council is making applications, with the help of Janelle Saffin and Thomas George, to include certain parts of the council area and that will be those western areas like Bonalbo and Tabulam."



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