In Australia, we have our fair share of rough elements to battle, with storms and the resulting floods leaving a devastating trail of wreckage and debris. Fortunately, we have just as powerful services and help with recovery.
We've looked to our partners, including the SES and Australian Red Cross, and collated some simple and practical tips to help you navigate the process of recovery as quickly and effectively as possible.
Returning to your home or business after severe weather can be an overwhelming experience, and the emotional impact it can have on those affected shouldn't be underestimated. But for all the devastation it causes, severe weather often shines a light on the incredible community spirit that can be found throughout Australia. After all, our willingness to help each other is what has shaped us as a nation.
1. Get permission before returning to your property
Your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, needs to be your priority at every step of the recovery process. Return to your property only when emergency services have declared it safe to do so, and even then, only enter once you are certain that you're not at risk.
2. Be mindful of hazards at home
When returning home after a storm, make sure the electricity and gas is off before going inside.
If you need light, use a torch until you can be sure that there's no gas around. When returning after a flood, keep all power and electrical appliances off until they've been checked and approved for use and the property has been cleaned up. In both situations, it's also important to check that your smoke detectors are still working.
After a flood keep all power and electrical appliances off until they have been checked and approved for use and the house is cleaned up.
3. Help your neighbours
Feeling connected to your community is especially important when severe weather strikes.
Once it's safe to do so, head next door to check on your neighbours to see how they're doing and whether there's anything you can do to help them. Don't know them? Now is a great time to introduce yourself! You never know how you may be able to help each other.
Organising a community clean-up is another great way to connect with your neighbours over a shared experience, and afterwards you can sit down with a cup of tea and chat about what's happened – we recover better when we do it together.
4. Stay connected
Community connection and resilience results in improved health and wellbeing, more confident and self-reliant communities, an improved sense of safety and belonging and increased risk mitigation.
Taking those first steps towards connecting with your neighbours is fantastic, but it’s also important to plan how you can stay connected in the future. Strengthening those connections will ensure that your community not only recovers well, you’ll also be better prepared for whatever you face in the future.
5. Wear gloves and a mask during clean-up
Floodwater, in particular, can bring with it a lot of contaminants. Protect yourself with gloves, a mask, and thick rubber boots during the clean-up.
When cleaning up after a flood make sure to wear gloves and mask during the clean up as things may have been contaminated.
Don't eat any food that has been in floodwater, and ditch any perishable items if your electricity has been cut off for an extended time… if you're unsure, get rid of it. Boil tap water until emergency services declare water supplies to be safe.
After a storm throw out food that's been in contact with floodwater and boil water until supplies have been declared safe
6. Research the help that is available to you
Organisations such as the Red Cross (shelter and outreach services) and Orange Sky Laundry (mobile laundry services) are on the ground in some areas, offering support to those in need. For anyone needing confidential emotional and crisis support, Lifeline is available 24/7 via 13 11 14.