Chaplains support flood-affected communities

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Disaster Recovery Chaplains are supporting people in flood-affected areas across NSW as the flooding crisis has claimed one man’s life and forced 24,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Despite the easing of rain, the risk remains high for many, with the massive volumes of water heading down river systems and some communities still yet to see floods peak.

The historic flooding has been described as the worse in almost 100 years, with areas on the mid-north coast receiving as much as 890mm of rain in the past week.

The devastating floods have led to the death of at least one person. On Wednesday, police reported a man has died after his car was trapped in floodwaters at Glenorie in northwest Sydney. 

In Queensland, flash flooding has forced the closure of almost 200 roads and SES crews have worked non-stop receiving more than 570 requests for assistance in the past 24 hours.

Rev Dr Stephen Robinson coordinates the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN), a ministry of the Synod of NSW and ACT, and has spent the past week deploying and supporting chaplains wherever access was possible to more than 20 evacuation centres.

Two teams of chaplains have supported people at evacuation centres in Port Macquarie and Laurieton where communities have experienced some of the worst flooding.

“There is a lot of intense need there. Up to 250 people who were evacuated to Laurieton have lost everything, a flooded caravan park and a lot of housing lost,” Stephen reported.

“Nearly all (of those evacuated) had only a single shopping bag with all they owned in it, the rest lost to flood.”

“There is a lot of water moving inland now, and in days ahead there will be riverine flooding in some rural townships.”

DRCN chaplains were in place at evacuations centres in Bulahdelah, Macksville, Laurieton, Kempsey, Taree, Richmond, North Richmond, Castle Hill and The Entrance.

Chaplains were on standby at Richmond and North Richmond on Tuesday where they were expecting mass evacuations from the Colo area which, thankfully, was not needed.  

The NSW DRCN is a group of 380 volunteer chaplains from 15 different faith groups.  The Synod is a Community Partner in the disaster welfare arrangements, so when evacuations or recovery activity takes place, the DCRN is called upon to provide pastoral care, comfort and support to people. 

They also come beside faith leaders to equip and support them in the long recovery ahead.

“In the weeks ahead we anticipate our DRCN chaplains being engaged in recovery centres and communities from Sydney up through the central and mid-north coast areas.  These will be coming alongside residents as they begin to assess their losses and consider what the future holds for them,” said Stephen.