More than 50 years of family history and hard work of NSW oyster farmer James Ford, from Gumma, was washed away by the recent floods.
CAPTION: James Ford after received help from the ADF with rebuilding his business, Nambucca River Oysters, during Operation NSW Flood Assist. Story by Captain Taylor Lynch. Photo by Private Jacob Hilton.
But the ADF was able to take some pressure off his recovery effort.
Mr Ford was one of countless local business owners who had their livelihoods impacted by the natural disaster in March.
He has been farming oysters on the Nambucca River for 15 years, following in his father’s footsteps who did it for the previous 35 years.
The flood significantly damaged his business, Nambucca River Oysters.
“We were prepared for a once-in-100-year flood, but this was something else,” Mr Ford said.
“It was absolutely devastating.
“The force of the water washed everything away – my oyster pots, five-tonne ropes, the platforms, boats and barge.
“It’s going to take years to rebuild, but we’ll make it through.”
Helping small businesses has been a focus for ADF personnel deployed on Operation NSW Flood Assist.
Farms were often the hardest hit by the flooding, and ADF members are helping in the recovery effort on a number of fruit, vegetable and livestock farms throughout regional NSW.
Oyster farms along the Nambucca River were particularly disrupted, given their reliance on the waterways that overflowed.
Some of Mr Ford’s equipment and materials washed up on beaches at Scotts Head about 30 minutes up the road.
A small joint contingent from the Navy and Air Force arranged trucks to pick up the equipment from the beaches, clean it and drop it off to Mr Ford to ease some of his stress and allow him to continue repairing his farm.
“It’s been great having the defence force come and give the community a hand,” Mr Ford said.
“Work that would have taken me a whole day took them about an hour – it’s a massive help.
“My son is in the Army and posted to Townsville, so it’s great to see them around and I appreciate the work they are doing.”