Aerial view Lismore of Lismore floods.
Aerial view Lismore of Lismore floods.

VIDEO: Flood panel critical of "inadequate" communication

A FLOOD preparation project, speeding up disaster funding allocations and indefinite mental health support for flood-affected residents were among key recommendations outlined in a new report into the March 31 natural disaster.

The Lismore Business Flood Recovery Taskforce unveiled a suite of more than 20 recommendations in the report, Counting the Cost and Facing the Future released yesterday.

NSW Small Business Commissioner, Robyn Hobbs chaired the eight-person panel which dissected preparation, response and recovery efforts regarding the one-in-40 year flood.

The centrepiece of the report called for a new 'Lismore Flood Ready' partnering project in the coming months.

It aims to produce a Lismore flood preparation and recovery plan that assists business and the wider community.

The report warned the "plethora of post-flood evaluations ... by multiple agencies that will likely result in uncoordinated outcomes unless the intelligence gathered is shared and synthesised at a single point".

Critical to Lismore Flood Ready's success the report said would be hosting public workshop, hoped to be held in October, to bring together all key stakeholders to jointly agree on the way forward.

The report labelled communications between authorities and businesses as "inadequate before and during the flood" and recommended a review and update existing flood communications systems and publicise the improved model.

In the meantime, the report outlined that the State Emergency Service personnel "should conduct educational flood preparedness workshops with businesses as soon as is practicable and distribute updated information to every business in the CBD plus North and South Lismore".

According to the NSW Government's 'Whole of Government Impact Assessment Report', at least 68% of businesses in the Lismore CBD suffered flood damage with the total damage bill clocked just under $40 million.

Exploring different options to speed up post-event financial assistance and a Lismore City Council natural disaster fund were also suggested by the taskforce to bolster monetary support for flood affected residents.

Insurance companies were also subject to scrutiny with the taskforce to lobby firms to "to provide improvements to flood insurance for businesses, including faster turnaround times, the development of more streamlined application processes and clearer communications."

The taskforce included: Mayor Isaac Smith ; Lismore MP Thomas George ; Page MP Kevin Hogan ; Lismore Business panel chairwoman Kaylene Hopf ; Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Deborah Benhayon ; Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers chief executive Alex Smith ; Regional Manager Northern Rivers, NSW Business Chamber Jane Laverty and Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement), Southern Cross University Ben Roche.

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