Businesses in flood-hit areas will have access to grants and bank loans to fund their recovery, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced, as the clean-up of flood-ravaged NSW begins in earnest.
Mr. Morrison announced that a loan arrangement would be extended to small and medium-sized businesses when he visited SES headquarters in western Sydney on Saturday morning.
He said the federal government will insure 80 percent of bank loans up to $ 5 million for small and medium businesses in the flood-hit areas, with repayments starting at two years in the loan.
It is an extension of a support program already available to companies affected by Covid.
Flood-affected areas are seen from a helicopter in the Windsor area in Sydney on March 24, 2021
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to the media on Saturday during a visit to SES Claremont Meadows, Sydney
“This is about supporting the companies and producers who are supporting themselves to get back on their feet,” said Morrison.
He promised “more support … more help” as the recovery progresses.
The loans are in addition to a recovery grant program jointly funded by the federal and NSW governments.
Small businesses can get up to $ 50,000 and primary producers up to $ 75,000 if directly damaged by the floods.
As tens of thousands of people across NSW are returning to their homes, an emergency services strike is tackling the cleaning up of homes, roads and communities.
“Australian Defense Forces personnel, in addition to NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW, have already been deployed,” said Emergency Management Secretary David Littleproud.
“Teams go from house to house, hosing off property and removing damaged items, as well as sandbags and clearing debris.”
NSW State Emergency Service employees and police load boats with supplies supplied by Coles employees intended to reach stranded locals in the Windsor area on March 24
An NSW State Emergency Service and police officer assist a local woman on a boat in Windsor on March 24
NSW has experienced a string of sunny, warm days following the massive flood, but more than 8,000 residents were still thrown from their homes on Friday night as evacuation orders remained in place in certain areas.
Flooding has abated in many parts of the state, but orders remain around Moree and the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley of northwest Sydney.
Dozens of homes were evacuated in the Mid North Coast towns of Grassy Head and Stuarts Point on Friday night after septic tanks were flooded and sewage water leaked through the townships.
The Australian Red Cross warns of a lack of access to mental health services.
“Our volunteers have heard stories of suffering from the abandonment of homes, livestock and even a change of clothes,” Poppy Brown, Red Cross director, said in a statement.
Many of these communities have endured years of simultaneous disasters, from drought, forest fires, COVID-19 and now floods. The impact of this latest disaster is expected to be significant. ‘
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen visiting Stoney Aqua Park in Port Macquarie, NSW, Friday March 26
NSW police are loading supplies supplied by Coles to reach stranded locals by boat in the Windsor area on March 24
Those returning to their flood-damaged homes should first check for damage to the roof and walls and make sure the power and gas are turned off, the SES said.
Residents should wear protective clothing, have fresh water and be aware of contaminated flood water during clean-up.
The SES has begun assessing damage in the affected areas, with at least 75 properties declared potentially uninhabitable so far.
Justin Robinson of the Bureau of Meteorology said the situation in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley should ease by Monday and that river levels in Moree were falling rapidly.
But Mr. Robinson warned that even though the sun was shining, people should still avoid flooded rivers and exercise caution this weekend.
“Having high rivers, a sunny weekend, kids playing … is a pretty dangerous combination,” he said.
The SES said there were 12,500 requests for help and 1,000 flood rescues as of last week.
About 500 SES volunteers remain in the field, supported by hundreds of soldiers who have descended from Queensland to assist with the clean-up.
Meanwhile, the search for an elderly woman continues after police pulled her car from the swollen Barrington River on Thursday.
NSW State Emergency Service, locals, and Coles employees help load supplies onto boats intended to reach stranded locals in the Windsor area on March 24