How you can help those affected by the floods in NSW

For weeks, extreme weather conditions have been hitting the east coast. Sydney has been hit by devastating floods and large areas of southeast Queensland and the northern rivers region of New South Wales are still affected by the rain. Now there are severe wind warnings from Newcastle to Bega, tens of thousands of people in New South Wales are still under evacuation orders, and the New South Wales Minister for Transport South Wales David Elliott urges commuters to stay home. It’s a disaster – even the prime minister is expected to declare it a national emergency later today.

If you want to roll up your sleeves and help out, we’ve put together this list of practical ways to do so. Whether you are able to donate time, money or goods to help people rebuild, here are some of the ways you can help those affected by our most recent natural disaster.

Donate goods and money

The government’s official donation partner is Givit, which is a smarter way to donate through its system of matching specific requests and monetary donations with individuals and businesses. Givit is currently distributing funds to flood-affected areas in New South Wales and Queensland.

In addition to the big ones like the Australian Red Cross Society, Vinnies and the SES, your local charity shops can also divert goods (preferably new or almost new) to those in need, and animal shelters or Local hospitals are usually overwhelmed after natural disasters. You’ll likely see many individual GoFundMe campaigns on your social media, and you can help by donating them or sharing them yourself so they reach a wider audience.

Other amazing local organizations to donate to include Orange Sky Australia (which has rolled out its free mobile laundry vans to affected areas) and Share The Dignity, which coordinates the delivery of sanitary and toiletries to the area. And you can donate to Foodbank Australia, which is currently accepting financial donations and providing food and water to affected communities.

And people are not the only ones affected by the floods. Over the past two weeks, WIRES has rescued opossums, seabirds, and orphaned wallaby and kangaroo joeys and transferred them to volunteer veterinarians and caregivers for urgent assistance. Simply donate here or consider becoming a WIRES volunteer.

Organize a fundraising event

After the bushfires, a pandemic and now the floods, we have seen small Australian businesses come together to support each other and the wider community. Last week, Bar Suze held a raffle and street party with all proceeds going to aid flood victims. Now many more local businesses are hosting great events to raise money and show their support.

On Friday, March 11, all Bunnings stores nationwide (except those affected by flooding) will fire up the barbie for a sizzle of flood relief sausages. You can head to your nearest Bunnings between 9am and 4pm and score yourself a sauso sanga, with all proceeds going to Givit’s Storms and Flooding Appeal.

If you’re a Sydney local, head to Redfern’s Good Ways Deli on Saturday March 12 for an epic bake sale. A stack of Sydney’s best bakeries, delis, cafes and restaurants are getting involved, including AP Bakery, Fred’s, Soulmate, Valentina’s and Small Talk, with more to come. Starting at 10 a.m., the cash-only bake sale will donate all money raised to Bundjalung Community Flood Relief and Givit.

Or, you can head to natural wine purveyor DRNKS in Alexandria and head to their Hot Skins Tasting event, where you can sample rare Japanese wines and feast on barbecued snacks. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here, with $5 each ticket also. go to Bundjalung Community Flood Relief.

Volunteer for flood cleanup and support

Another great way to help is to volunteer your time to clean up, repair, and support. You can become a spontaneous volunteer with SES or register as a volunteer with BlazeAid: a volunteer-based organization that helps rebuild fences and other structures in rural areas affected by natural disasters.

Crisis Heroes is another great platform that allows you to offer specific skills or services that those in need can call upon. If you are keen on volunteering in your area, check with your councilor’s office as many coordinate requests and offers of help from local chapters.

Another practical way to offer immediate help is to contact the RSPCA if you are able to foster an animal – their resources are extremely stretched following natural disasters and some of their centers have also been affected. Or, you can simply donate.

You can also choose to volunteer at the recently opened Refettorio OzHarvest Sydney restaurant in Surry Hills, which serves vulnerable Sydneysiders a free lunch every Tuesday and Friday.

To reach

Community and personal connections are so important at a time like this, so be sure to keep the door open for those who have been affected, or elderly or vulnerable residents who may not be able to access their regular support network.

It can be as simple as texting someone you know who has been affected or just lending an ear if they need to talk about how they feel. Just let them guide you and be receptive to doing as little or as much as the people, families and businesses involved need.

Suburban Facebook groups are also a great way to connect directly with those in need, so you can offer your outlets to people to charge devices, drop off groceries, do lots of laundry, or deliver hot meals.

Image credit: Getty Images

About Michael Brafford

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