Flooding victims await answers from NSW government

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Flooding victims await answers from NSW government

In the chilling cold of winter, Maralyn Schofield glued discarded election corflutes to the walls of her home as makeshift insulation.

She was one of thousands of Northern Rivers residents whose homes were inundated in the floods, and one of many who would be willing to move to higher ground.

Ms Schofield hopes that the NSW government's response to the independent flood inquiry will include long-awaited details of a land swap and a buyback scheme.

She said Premier Dominic Perrottet left the situation clear as mud for home owners.

We were expecting some answers around the land swaps and the buybacks. We were given small snippets, no certainty, she said.

The findings from the flood inquiry, prepared by the former police commissioner Michael Fuller and Independent Planning Commission Chair Mary O'Kane, found people in the most vulnerable areas near Lismore should be relocated urgently. Perrottet committed to adopting all 28 recommendations, but he said some would take time to implement.

He said the reconstruction authority would open expressions of interest in a land swap and buyback scheme by the end of August.

That is something we need to work through, because we know that for many people that will provide uncertainty today in terms of eligibility.

South Lismore resident Harper Dalton said the lack of clarity was frustrating and disappointing.

I still won't sleep well knowing that we could have a repeat event next month and nothing's changed except my house is severely damaged, he said.

I put the $20,000 Back Home grant into my house. If it floods next week, I lose all my work, I lose everything I've donated and I'm back to square one if the house is still there. The state government has confirmed it will merge SES and RFS back-of-house operations in response to the inquiry's recommendations.

Fuller said he knew some SES volunteers would be disappointed, but he believed it would allow them to respond more effectively to major disasters.

Rural Fire has 70,000 volunteers but SES has around 200 people who are trained for flood rescue, he said.

The RFS has a very sound commissioner and they will embrace the back-of-house merger without devaluing the brand of the SES. Tweed Shire Council had submitted a submission to the inquiry calling for the SES and RFS to merge with Fire and Rescue NSW.

The mayor Chris Cherry said combining the administration for the two volunteer groups would be a fair compromise.

She said that being able to share resources and to have that combined knowledge of each other's response would be a big benefit to the community.

It would be helpful in times of emergencies when it comes to allocating resources.