Full time and reservist soldiers based in Lismore have spread out to smaller towns in the New South Wales Northern Rivers area, as the focus of Operation Flood Assist expands.
CAPTION: Sergeant Jody Cropp from 41st Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment loads crates of fresh food onto a helicopter operated by New South Wales Rural Fire Service, ready for delivery to areas of Northern NSW. Story by Major Jesse Robilliard. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.
With road access restored to many locations previously only accessible via air, Commanding Officer of 41st Battalion, the Royal New South Wales Regiment (41 RNSWR), Lieutenant Colonel Susana Fernandez said soldiers were hitting the road.
“Our main focus today has been to get out to as many townships as we can.” Lieutenant Colonel Fernandez said.
“A lot of the townships have been cut off since the flood waters receded, so our main effort now has to get as many forces to as many townships as we can to help as many people as possible.”
“We have put our soldiers into lots of the remote towns such as Coraki and Mullumbimby, they are going into those towns just to support clean up and recovery efforts, and food and water distribution.”
Adelaide-based soldiers from put smiles on the faces of many Mulllumbimby locals, helping them clean out their flood damaged homes.
When Lismore was devastated by the recent record floodwaters, the local reservists of 41 RNSWR assisted the community however they could.
“We are the local battalion on the North coast, we live in the community and we’ve been on the ground since before the floodwaters started to rise,” Lieutenant Colonel Fernandez said.
“Our soldiers have been out helping the SES, letting the community know about evacuation orders and they’ve helped with searches and rescues.
“Now we’re in that phase where we are sustaining life in communities cut off, evacuating people where they still need evacuating and also now the long job ahead of the clean up process.”
With reservist and full-time soldiers from as far afield as Sydney and Adelaide now based in Lismore for Op Flood Assist 2022, the exhausted soldiers of 41 RNSWR are beginning to stand down and clean up their own properties.
Lieutenant Colonel Fernandez said the Northern Rivers was in safe hands as more ADF personnel and capabilities had arrived in the region.
“Community members in places like Coraki and Mullumbimby, have really stepped up to help each other because they have been cut off,” Lieutenant Colonel Fernandez said.
“Defence is moving out into all those towns with as many resources as we can get to support those people.”