The federal minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean was in the region yesterday take a first hand look at flood-damaged areas of the Clarence Valley.
In Grafton he met local mayors and discussed the cleanup efforts.
The minister says the community is relieved the flooding was not as bad as intially anticipated.
Mr Crean says new infrastructure will have to be able to cope with future floods.
“We’re only in the middle of the wet season here,” he said.
“There has to be the continuing preparedness for that.
“So, relief but not complacency I guess is the best way to sum that up.
“A preparedness to recognise the time that’s going to be taken to do the re-build, and in a lot of cases, councils haven’t been able to assess the full extent of damage.”
Mr Crean says it is great to see people are in good spirits and committed to helping each other.
“People themselves seemed in good spirits given what they’ve been through, given what could have been,” he said.
“But it’s that sense of good stoic spirit, the commitment to help each other that came through very strongly.
“But no one is resting on the laurels; no one is sitting there saying ‘the dangers passed; let’s just get on with life’.”
The Clarence Valley mayor the big clean up has begun.
Richie Williamson says infrastructure has been badly damaged in some of the worse affected areas, such as Cowper, Brushgrove and Ulmarra, and that will not be easy to re-build.
“The Federal government, the State government and local government will all work together for our community to ensure that the rebuild is fast and swift,” he said.
“But we do acknowledge that there has been some very great infrastructure damage to road networks, and that’s going to take some time to re-build.”
Cr Williamson says the minister and other mayors also met with the director of the weather bureau at Grafton and the forecast is not good.
He says they were told the rain is expected to continue, posing more threats to already affected residents and businesses.
“He did give us the very stark reality that this weather pattern we are in at the moment is strengthening really,” he said.
“It’s certainly not showing any signs of weakening.
“We can expect these heavy rainfall events to be with us until probably April or May, as this weather pattern is showing no signs of easing in the foreseeable future.”