On the first day in the field post flood, the Australian Defence Force teams in our shire assisted council in repairing potholes over 20 km of road using 12 tonnes of bitumen.
These are the sorts of mind-blowing achievements that have been carried out not only daily but hourly by the Recovery Taskforce team that has been created to carry out relief and kickstart recovery in our shire.
The response from around the state for Kempsey Shire has been a big hug of support and sympathy provided by hundreds of people from numerous agencies.
When you think about what these numerous agencies have done in the last few weeks it is staggering.
The NSW Rural Fire Service prioritised the isolated communities, with local units establishing community hubs as well as carrying out complex resupply missions with cranes and tractors and boats.
Fire and Rescue pumped out the centre of town. Various pumps were used to attempt to clear the floodwater from Belgrave Street, with no great success. So in came the super pump. The Bulk Water Transfer System 'HYTRANS' it moves roughly 6000 litres of water a minute.
In reality, all flood water is contaminated. And people in isolated communities don't stop having health needs - or babies! Health NSW's first priority in the flood was their staffing issues - getting staff in and out to isolated communities and carrying out medical evacuations. It was achieved without a blip, including a 38-week pregnant mother-to-be who was brought out of Crescent Head.
The Australian Defence Force arrived a week ago and what a difference they have made. From dropping off food for communities and animals along Maria River Road, to assistance with rubbish removal in Smithtown and Hat Head there is a never ending list of the amazing work the ADF have assisted with.
The SES are the lead combat agency in a flood - that means they're the ones calling the shots and doing the work to keep people safe. The end of the flood hasn't lessened their load however, they have concentrated on resupplies of food and goods.
Our farmers and primary producers have been some of the hardest hit members of our community and the Department of Primary Industries has been here for them. They have concentrated on stock disposal and fodder distribution. They are focused on supplying adequate fodder to affected farmers and have already distributed approximately 271 tonnes of fodder.
People are at the heart of our community and the Welfare Services team have been looking out for our people. They have been working closely with people registered at one of the evacuation centres, especially in Stuarts Point and are committed to finding temporary accommodation for everyone.
Engineering Services have been here in the shire providing ongoing support by way of structural assessments of houses, inspections of slips above and below roads and supporting council with waste collection and disposal.
Council's Waste Team have been working with their contractor Cleanaway as well as with Environmental Protection Agency and Public Works to find solutions to the waste challenges.
Along with council's Infrastructure Team, council's staff have recorded more than 3000 additional hours of work in the last fortnight and it has primarily been the teams dedicated to roads, bridges, sewers and other public infrastructure. There was no rest, just a change of clothes and tools.
More than 500 individual recovery tasks have been identified through staff referrals, the rapid assessment teams or calls to Customer Service and approximately 80 per cent of those have been completed.
All of the amazing response, relief and recovery work has been coordinated through the Emergency Operations Centre running out of Kempsey Police station non-stop for a fortnight.
Now the transition begins to Resilience NSW who will support and oversee the work of recovery.
The collected services at the Recovery Hub on Elbow St have been very busy with calls, emails and drop-ins. Overall the sentiment from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. There have been pockets of angst and frustration, just as there are still locations facing deeply upsetting circumstances including those evacuated from their homes in Stuarts Point and houses still without energy upriver.
All of the above is only the tip of the iceberg, the support has been utterly overwhelming. And on behalf of everyone in the Macleay, we thank you all.
If you have been impacted by the flood and need help please call Kempsey Shire Council's Recovery Hub on 6566 3200 during business hours or visit ksc.pub/recovery.
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