Len Roberts: I would like to pay tribute to the State Emergency Service volunteers, Rural fire Service, Police Council workers, and others who so efficiently and competently worked through our area during the recent storm events.
It appears that Hawks Nest was the Eye of the storm and Dungog received the bulk of the downpour.
Our area had several homes destroyed, mainly through falling trees.
Flooding was not really an issue, but there was storm and water damage due to the amount of rain.
Bulahdelah copped but coped with the flooding.
The clean-up (particularly tree debris) continues.
The free vegetation drop off at the recycling centre continues until the 17 May.
It is not a simple matter for council to just waive the fees as council is charged around $100 per ton of green waste by the EPA.
Fortunately council was able to have the fee waived during this period by the EPA and therefore able to assist residents.
There is still much to do and under the emergency provisions now in place the work will continue.
The emergency provisions declaration is very important and will allow Council to prepare an application for the funding of repairs to local public infrastructure sustained during the severe storm.
Individual residents suffering hardship are also able to apply for funding, please phone 1800 018 444 for further assistance.
If you are unsure of your eligibility please contact that number.
Whilst the recovery for flood damage and infrastructure damage was expected and procedures in place to manage such, one unexpected consequence was the size of many of the trees torn out of the ground and the huge root balls ripped out.
Many residents are able to cut and remove the tree branches and trunks, but how does one manage the root ball that is left upside down in the back or front yard?
The matter is being considered by government and an answer will be announced shortly.
Keep an eye on councils website for latest information about this and other storm related clean up.
There are many fabulous and interesting stories to emerge from the past couple of weeks.
Neighbours coming together helping each other to clean up, hiring a mulcher and having the mulch for their gardens.
My own son and daughter during the worst night of the storm having to drive to hospital at 2am, dodging falling trees and rising waters as they were about to give birth.
I thought they may call her Storm, but chose Mia instead.
Farmers at Bulahdelah had stock fences torn down, cattle swept away for several kilometres, only for the cattle to emerge on dry land and making their way back home.
I am told it was an interesting thing to see.
Out of adversity people do come together and help each other and it is really heart-warming.
Unfortunately, though there are reports of others who took advantage of the situation by removing non damaged storm vegetation just to get the free waste service at the tip.
There is so much good in our community; it is so disappointing to hear of those who let the community down.
Fortunately they are well and truly in the minority.
There will be a community meeting on Tuesday 19 May 7pm at the Baptist Church at Tea Gardens.
This meeting has been arranged by the SES to debrief the community about what went well, what can be done better and ongoing awareness of disaster recovery plans.
The meeting will be facilitated by an independent facilitator experienced in gaining community insight into emergency response situations.
It would be great to have a good turnout so that we can thank the volunteers and make suggestions for an improved and ongoing disaster response plan for our area.