“The water came up and now they’ve lost everything.”

9 March 2022

Carole Isaacs only recently started her role with Vinnies supporting communities impacted by the black summer bushfires.

Within weeks of taking on her job, her role has changed drastically from recovering from one disaster to responding to another.

Spending much of last week cut off in Maclean due to the heavy rainfall bucketing throughout Northern NSW, Carole and the Vinnies team are stepping up by ‘plugging gaps’ for fellow community groups and offering assistance to people picking up the pieces of the flood damage.

“I was at the evacuation centre in Maclean last week and I heard about a group of around 25 people stranded up at Woombah, a little town on the way to Iluka at the end of the Clarence Valley LGA,” says Carole.

“They had no water and were running low on supplies, so I stocked up on groceries and managed to get through the highway. 

“There were six or eight caravans and the rest were in cars, they didn’t have any water and were running low on supplies. 

“Some of them were living permanently at a little caravan park that was on the Clarence River. 

“The water came up and now they’ve lost everything.”

In addition to providing immediate assistance during times of crisis, Vinnies has a track record of supporting communities to recover and rebuild over the long-term.

With Vinnies using funds raised from its bushfire appeal to help impacted communities and groups connect and be prepared for future disasters, one of the programs funded thanks to the generosity of donors, has had an immediate impact this time around.

“Vinnies funds a digital mentors program as part of the Bushfire Community Development Program, which has proved really valuable in these times,” Carole explains.

“The aim of the program is to teach people with limited technology skills how to stay connected and use apps that can make them more resilient for future disasters.

“We have a paper newspaper that only comes out once a week, so we don’t get the daily updates that we used to. 

“As a result, it’s really crucial for everyone to be knowledgeable with social media. The digital mentors program was designed to train the trainer - we train people to train others – so we can reach as many people as possible.”

“This is not the last disaster that we’re going to see, so having more people ready is one way of coping with disasters as they roll along.”

With further rain predicted in the days to come, Carole is holding steadfast for the recovery that lays ahead. 

“We had an incredibly bad drought to start with, then the fires came, followed by floods and now more floods. 

“I’d say to people that your community really needs you still. All these little communities won’t survive unless we get more assistance that we can plug in immediately.”

The Vinnies NSW Flood Appeal is raising vital funds to support communities impacted by the devastating floods with their immediate needs and longer-term recovery.

You can help rebuild lives by donating at www.vinnies.org.au.nswfloodappeal or calling 13 18 12.