New South Wales flood victims thankful for Sunshine Coast caravans and commercial services

A nationwide appeal for caravan donations is providing emergency accommodation for flood victims in NSW, but organizers of the van-sharing scheme say more is urgently needed as a crisis in the accommodation takes over the region.

Online caravan sharing company Camplify is running the Flood Relief Program to provide temporary accommodation to residents of northern New South Wales while their flood-damaged homes are rebuilt.

It helps displaced residents like Susan Ardern and her partner, whose property in Tucabia, east of Grafton, was deemed uninhabitable by insurance assessors after floodwaters tore through the property.

Ms Ardern said she was ‘very grateful’ when they received their donated caravan.

“The floods hit us very hard and caused terrible damage to our house,” Ms Ardern said.

“We were knee deep in the water inside.”

Ms Ardern said there was no other accommodation in the area until they were provided with a caravan.

Piles of rubbish and household items in flood waters at Coraki, near Lismore.(ABC News: Gavin Coote)

“Also, it just wasn’t practical for us to go anywhere else, we have horses, a mare with a foal and a dog on half an acre,” she said.

“It’s really a blessing because I was coughing a lot and felt sick from mold, at least we have a clean roof over our heads now.”

“Loud Call to Arms”

Under the scheme, owners who lend their caravans to flood victims will be paid by insurance companies seeking to help their customers.

Renee Flynn, director of the Sunshine Coast Caravan Repair Centre, said she jumped at the chance to help “those in difficulty”.

“It gave them a reprieve.”

Ms Flynn said the program also offered a good business opportunity.

A man with blond hair stands with his hands on his hips with a motorhome in the background.
Harrison Edwards of the Caravan Repair Center will deliver vans to families in need.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Janel Shorthouse)

Camplify marketing director Alastair McCausland said his appeal had provided shelter for 135 people so far, but he was now stepping up his campaign.

“Our appeal is that people may not have heard the message, or they may think their vans are not suitable,” he said.

A merchant offers his help

Sunshine Coast electrician Lior Erez has visited Lismore twice in the past month to set up temporary power points for flood victims.

“All the houses that were affected, even if it was just a minor flood, the house had to be disconnected from power and you can’t restore power until all aspects of the electrical system are not controlled,” Erez said.

Man in blue shirt and bald outfit looks away from camera in flood damaged house.
Lior Erez has set up temporary electricity for flood victims in Lismore. (Supplied by: Lior Erez)

“There is a shortage of traders…and I will be happy to see more traders come and donate their time or if they can get relatively cheap material and donate some of the material or [offer them at] Cost.”

Mr Erez said he hooked up around 35 residents to a power outlet so they could run a fridge and lights.

But he admitted the damage he witnessed had been confronted.

“It was very devastating to see whole streets full of household and white goods, and everything you might have inside the house, being thrown out on the street,” he said.

A green Queenslander house with rubbish piled up in the lawn.
Me Erez says he is overwhelmed by the damage in Lismore.(Supplied by: Lior Erez)

Ms Ardern said receiving a caravan restored her sense of security and eased her worries.

“We’ll take good care of it.”

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