Flood recovery: Financial help available

A RANGE of financial assistance schemes will be available to Mid-North Coast residents after the weekend’s wet and wild weather.

Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott said the joint Commonwealth and NSW Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements were activated this afternoon, clearing the way for grants and low-interest loans to flood victims in the Hastings and Macleay valleys.

Funding includes personal hardship and distress assistance, restoration of essential public assets, concessional loans for small business and for primary producers (including oyster farmers), freight subsidies for primary producers, concessional loans for voluntary not-for-profit bodies and grants for voluntary not-for-profit bodies.

In addition, clean-up and recovery grants may be available to help businesses, including farm businesses, to resume trading as soon as possible. The grants can be used to clean up, replace damaged equipment and stock, and other general repairs.

Mr Oakeshott said he was pleased the state and Commonwealth responded so quickly to the disaster.

“As the clean-up begins, the damage bill will become more and more evident to affected homeowners and farmers, and so too the extent of the work to be done,” Mr Oakeshott said. “At this point in time, when homeowners are knee-deep in mud and flood waters or farmers are trying to find or feed their stock, flood victims need some certainty that they won’t be left to fend for themselves,” Mr Oakeshott said.

The MP also extended his appreciation to everyone who helped during the weekend’s deluge.

“Once again, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our emergency services personnel and volunteers,” Mr Oakeshott said. “And to the many residents who simply saw that someone, a total stranger, needed help and then offered it."

The relief and recovery arrangements, while mostly funded by the Commonwealth, will be administered by the NSW Government, and include:

Personal Hardship and Distress Assistance

The Ministry for Police and Emergency Services can provide disaster relief grants to eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household items have been destroyed or damaged by a natural disaster. People with limited financial resources and no insurance may be eligible for assistance for essential household items and structural repairs to the home.

Inquiries about the disaster relief grants and the eligibility criteria may be made by calling 1800 018 444.

Primary Producers – Loans

Loans of up to $130,000 are available (subject to certain eligibility criteria), at a concessional interest rate for those in urgent need. These loans may be used to meet carry-on requirements and the replacement and repair of damage not covered by insurance. Inquiries should be directed to the Authority on 1800 678 593.

Primary Producers - Transport subsidies

Transport freight subsidies of up to 50 per cent on the carriage of livestock and fodder are available to help primary producers. The maximum subsidy available is $15,000 per annum. Inquiries should be made to the nearest Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA) office. For general enquires, call (02) 6391 3242. 

Small business

Loans of up to $130,000 are available at a concessional rate to small businesses affected by disasters and which meet certain eligibility criteria. This finance is available to those unable to obtain assistance through normal channels. The NSW Rural Assistance Authority administers this scheme. Inquiries should be directed to the Authority on 1800 678 593.

Assistance for Councils

Grants are available to meet the additional costs of emergency work to restore essential services, including the provision of emergency levee banks, which are in excess of normal operations. Grants are available to meet 100 per cent of eligible emergency works and 75 per cent of eligible restorations works up to $116,000 with 100 per cent cost recovery beyond that level. The contact number is (02) 9372 8871.

Grants are available to help Councils to permanently restore roads and bridges to pre-disaster standards. These grants meet 75 per cent of the first $116,000 expenditure and 100 per cent beyond that level. This assistance is administered by the NSW Roads and Maritime Services. The contact number is (02) 8588 5480.

Trustees of Parks and Reserves

Provided the facilities concerned constitute "public assets", grants may be made available to those parties (i.e. community volunteer trustees) responsible for managing Crown land, parks and reserves, who do not have the financial capacity to meet restoration costs from their own resources. Department of Primary Industries - Catchments and Lands Division administers this scheme and in regard to information and claims please contact 6883 3000.

Sporting Clubs

A special scheme is available to assist sporting clubs in meeting the costs of restoration of essential club facilities that have been damaged or destroyed. The assistance is made available to those clubs which do not have the financial capacity to meet restoration costs from their own resources, but which have the capacity to repay any loan that may be granted. Under these arrangements the maximum assistance available is $12,000, including a grant of up to $2,000 and the balance by way of repayable advance with interest. The public enquiry number is (02) 9228 5181. This finance is available to those unable to obtain assistance through normal channels.

Churches and Voluntary Non-profit organisations

Loan assistance is available to churches and voluntary non-profit organisations for the restoration of essential facilities that have been damaged or destroyed. Eligible groups will usually perform a service for the community or environment and are funded by grants or donations. Non-profit organisations that perform a commercial function, charge a fee for a service or represent commercial or industrial groups, e.g. industry bodies are not eligible for assistance. These organisations can recover costs from their members or through fees. As with other schemes, assistance is only available to those organisations which do not have the financial capacity to meet restorations costs from their own resources, insurance and are unable to obtain assistance through normal channels. Advances are subject to a maximum of $25,000 at a concessional interest rate per annum. NSW Treasury administers this scheme. The public enquiry number is (02) 9228 5181.

Disaster Welfare Assistance

Available to low income earners not covered by insurance. Further details are available by phoning 1800 018 444.

Insurance

If you have a query relating to insurance you can call the Insurance Council on 1300 444 557. This service is available to all.

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