Volunteering and mutual aid during the devastating NSW floods

In the face of devastation and tragedy like NSW floods, volunteering and a shared sense of community bring us together says Silvia Martini

At the end of February 2022, our community by the northern rivers of NSW in Australia was devastated by terrible floods and landslides. In the early hours of the night, many towns such as Lismore and Coraki were submerged, while others were cut off from aid by landslides that made roads inaccessible. The flooding was the worst the region has ever seen. Countless lives and livelihoods were lost. In the midst of this tragedy — it was incredible to see the ways in which the community came together, to provide mutual aid and support one another.

In the midst of this tragedy — it was incredible to see the ways in which the community came together, to provide mutual aid and support one another.”

Government help took well over a week to arrive, but hundreds of community members came together the day after the rivers breached the townships, to help out those in need. Owners of small boats risked their safety to rescue families stranded on roofs of houses, people hiking into the forest and abseiling cliffs to bring food and water to those towns which had been cut off from road access. Cafes and restaurants gave away free cooked meals to volunteers and to anyone who was hungry. People opened their doors to those who lost their homes to the floods. 

Although people were devastated because of the loss and destruction, they also received love and support from each other in immeasurable amounts. Despite our mental health getting affected from witnessing a destruction of such levels, we, the volunteers, too felt a sense of togetherness and purpose. Along with the insurmountable grief we were experiencing, we also experienced a sense of joy and pride that arose from being part of this volunteering community and for facilitating aid. 

We also experienced a sense of joy and pride that arose from being part of this volunteering community.”

Even in the face of such great devastation, the community members and volunteers displayed unconditional love, fierce strength and determination, which was symbolic of the unity and compassion of the people of NSW. After two years of a pandemic that drastically changed our shared world, my community underlined the meaning of humanity and connection by coming together to uplift us all. 

After two years of a pandemic that drastically changed our shared world, my community highlighted the meaning of humanity and connection by coming together, to uplift us all.”

Facing NSW floods and devastation, showed how, even in an individualistic society such as Australia, the only thing that will help us to face potential catastrophes with grit, will be our sense of community. The floods highlighted that there are no strangers in our community, that we all crave the same things: affection and support, particularly in difficult situations. And although the reconstruction of what was lost in the floods might take a long time, the community stays strong and united.

The floods highlighted that there are no strangers in our community.”

I end this blog with a message — there is very little that can be compared to the strength of community coming together — helping others’, the kindness of strangers, it is part of our shared identity. I hope that everyone finds a cause to volunteer with, it has changed my life, and I know it can change yours.

Feature Image by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

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Volunteering and mutual aid during the devastating NSW floods

by Silvia Martini Reading time: 2 min
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