The weeks of drenching are set to continue across large parts of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, leaving many homes and communities stranded or underwater.
The east of Australia is experiencing some of the worst flooding it’s ever seen, with virtually every river west of the dividing range either currently overflowing or soon set to burst.
Yet amidst all this chaos and heartache, some truly uplifting stories are emerging of all the ways local residents are pitching in to help each other out and save homes and lives from the flood waters.
In the town of Moama, just across the border from VIC in the Riverina district of NSW, the SES issued an evacuation warning on Tuesday, telling residents they needed to leave by 1pm on Wednesday as floodwaters surged down the Murray.
While some have departed, many locals and even some out-of-towners have stayed put to build walls of sandbags around homes and businesses to keep the coming water out.
ABC Riverina journalist Romy Stephens shared this clip on Twitter, saying “residents reporting they don’t even know the people turning up to sandbag homes, they are just chipping in to help.”
Huge community effort in #Moama to prepare for expected major flooding. Residents reporting they don’t even know the people turning up to sandbag homes, they are just chipping in to help. @abcnews #NSWFloods pic.twitter.com/gR8w6PaEWY
— Romy Stephens (@romysteph) October 19, 2022
Across the border in Echuca, where residents have been under evacuation orders since Sunday, similar scenes are playing out. Two rain fronts are set to bring even more rain into the already-soaked region over the next seven days and residents are planning for the worst.
The local community Facebook page is a hive of activity, with dozens of posts offering help, supplies, and advice. The whole community has been mobilised to help out and are freely giving their time and support to one another.
One local posted asking for assistance at their address and at least seven people responded immediately. Two hours later, the comment thread was updated to say that the residence had been secured by the help of people chipping in.
Lou Conway, Moama resident and Echuca Moama Photography Club member shared these photos of community members filling sandbags near the local playing fields.
“It’s devastating, yet so many happy tears have been shed as people hurry to the aid of others,” Conway told The Latch.
“Loving our community and how people are uniting.”
The Victorian SES have reported that they’re being assisted by more than 2,000 volunteers in the preparations for the flooding.
During the devastating flooding in Lismore and the Northern Rivers region of NSW earlier this year, reports surfaced of locals getting into personal boats and driving into the flood waters to help their neighbours.
It seems like that’s just what Aussies do when people are in need, as the ABC report that two teenagers have used their tinnie to rescue more than 40 people and their pets in Mooroopna, near Shepparton in the north of VIC.
18-year-old Jack Stagg and his mate Digby went for a drive in their boat to assess the damage in the area after the Goulburn River flooded. Soon they were hearing shouts for help from houses.
“I thought people would have left already, but there were a lot of people needing help and a lot of people staying in their houses with water pumping through like a river,” Stagg told the ABC.
“They were pretty scared because they’d called [emergency services] several hours ago and they hadn’t shown up yet.
“They were pretty desperate to get out.”
The boys spent the next 11 hours ferrying people to safety, although the SES advised that people not go out and do similar for risk of putting themselves in danger.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said that the efforts on the ground of regular people jumping in to offer support have been heartening.
“What Australians are doing is what we always do, we are uniting to look after communities impacted by these floods,” he said.
“At the worst of times we always see the best of the Australian character … it was quite inspirational this morning to see what people have done.”
Disaster is never too far away in this part of the world, but at least we know that others will always have our backs when the worst happens.