SCAADA Group, continues to assist New South Wales and Queensland’s flood disaster zones after their respective flooding events in 2022.
SCAADA Group is working in conjunction with Johns Lyng Group on behalf of the NSW and QLD government’s Disaster Recovery Fund to perform environmental assessments on properties, including potential temporary accommodation sites post the floods of February 28.
The biggest flood in modern Australian history which inundated Lismore, and the rest of the Northern Rivers is still very much an open case with many residents still living below the minimum essential standard of living.
Director of SCAADA Group Dale Smith said, “We’re on the ground in Lismore and still as of today, there are young families living in cars, or in tents set up in their living rooms, without access to essential services like power, sewage and communications. It’s heartbreaking.”
SCAADA Group has experience in post disaster aid having previously worked with Building Victoria post the bushfires that struck the Gippsland region in February of 2020. Here many communities were isolated for weeks as thousands of kilometres of roads and critical infrastructure were rendered unserviceable.
The Geelong company has relocated some staff and has others travelling to and from Geelong to the affected areas weekly, to assist in the recovery process. They travel up to two hours to reach affected areas and in some instances have had to turn back due to lack of access.
“It’s a confronting situation but we’re committed to assisting those affected to get their lives back,” said Mr Smith.
Whilst on the ground SCAADA Group are performing a variety of environmental assessments including building integrity inspections, assessing total damage, water and storm damage, risk of mould, related asbestos and chemical contamination – a residual problem in the soil from leakage and spillage via water transfer.
The indiscriminate nature of the floods means that nearly every square inch of the flood zones will need some form of remediation, the question being whether it can be brought back to an inhabitable state or not.
SCAADA Group wants to draw attention to what they feel is a forgotten issue.
“Many residents are still without phone and internet access and many houses are still yet to be assessed,”
“The lack of access, physical landscape and geographical footprint are a few reasons many people are yet to have their properties assessed which really is phase one of the recovery process,” said Mr Smith.
Temporary accommodation sites are out to tender but there is years of work to recover infrastructure and return communities to their prior state.
Whilst SCAADA Group has staff on the ground to complete the initial “phase one” assessment they then hope to engage locals to do the field work whilst remaining project lead.
Phase two which would see the total clean up of sites has commenced in the business district but few residential properties are at this stage some six months on. Phase three would then see the remediation, if possible of sites, however this may not be achieved for many years.
SCAADA Group have teamed up with another Geelong company FreeFlow, and have submitted a tender to provide fully contained portable housing built in Geelong that would be transported to sites in NSW and QLD for residents to reside in, whilst their journey to recovery continues.
This project not only helps to solve a housing crisis in the affected flood areas but would also see a boost to Geelong jobs as many positions would be created to deliver the project.
Whilst concerned with those affected in the flood zones, the mental health of staff is at the forefront of SCAADA Group’s mind. They continue to monitor the wellbeing of staff and contractors on a weekly basis, as many of their representatives are still the first line of communication for residents post the flooding events.
“The first hand recant of the floods, especially when it includes the loss of human life, can be difficult to process,” said Mr Smith.
SCAADA Group regularly checks in with staff to work through the reports and offers counselling services to those having difficulty processing the information. If required, representatives can also be removed from the project.
“The long term impact on people post the floods is immense. A number of people died, lost pets, livelihoods, and keepsakes like photography and jewellery that they will never get back. The loss is intergenerational,” said Mr Smith.
The path to rebuilding is slow but SCAADA Group who specialises in providing environmental services warns, that undertaking repairs before it is dry enough, can result in mould development, future degradation of structural materials, materials continuing to move as they finish drying, lifting and bubbling of floor coverings and ongoing health problems for occupants.
Director Dale Smith is imploring anyone who can help, to do so in any way they can.
“Please volunteer and donate your time, money or services where possible. A lot of the recovery program was coming out of Sydney but since their flood help has returned to help their locality.”
“If we win the tender for the multisite temporary accommodation project, we’d consider anyone with trades experience who would be able to relocate, to be an integral part of the project. It’d be wonderful to see Greater Geelong help those in need in the northern states,” said Mr Smith.
To help with flood-affected communities, you can donate to the Lismore Flood Fund by direct bank transfer. Council is accepting donations for the purpose of disaster recovery and community support arising from the current Lismore flooding disaster.
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