EXCLUSIVE: Lismore set to be declared disaster zone
FRIDAY 12pm: AS FLOODS continue to ravage parts of Northern NSW, the region looks set to be formally declared a natural disaster zone as early as this afternoon.
Lismore City, Tweed Shire, Byron Shire, Ballina Shire, Kyogle Shire and Richmond Valley councils have been put forward as in urgent need of support, by the local state MPs, to the NSW emergency services minister Troy Grant.
Up to 20,000 residents have been forced to flee their homes in evacuations overnight, with fears some may have died as flood water inundated Lismore and Murwillumbah CBDs, as well as surrounding rural villages.
The State and Federal Government are expected to jointly decide on a combination of disaster relief arrangements for those affected, through emergency Centrelink payments, payments to non-profits and to councils for damaged infrastructure.
Lismore MP Thomas George said the State Government's emergency service department is en-route to the region to assess the damage and it's also expected Mr Grant will visit the region in the coming days.
"It's a very trying time for the community for the people of Muwillumbah, Tumbulgum, Condong, Lismore and all of our country areas," Mr George said.
"There are some people doing it tough and the Lismore flood was historical in the sense that it was the first one that's come over the levy.
"That's certainly allowed the water to travel at an unbelievable rate, down through the streets of Lismore."
Federal member for Page, Kevin Hogan, has on Friday morning briefed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and MP Michael Keenan on the extensive damage caused by the floods.
The Federal Government has offered for Defence Force personnel to be dispatched to support the State Government in their recovery efforts, Mr Hogan said.
"National disaster relief needs to be requested through the State Government with the help of local councils.
"We have to quantify, as reasonably as possible, the dollar value of the damage that has been done and we're hoping for an announcement on those assessments imminently.
"We hope a national disaster relief arrangement will be triggered within 24-hours for the one off emergency payments."
Mr Hogan said the record-breaking floods marked an historical day for Northern Rivers residents.
"This is a really sad day for the community, with untold damage done to people's homes and businesses," Mr Hogan said.
"(The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull) wanted to pass on to the community, to those that have suffered with this weather event, that everyone one is very much in his thoughts and prayers right now."
Mr Hogan has been delayed coming home from Canberra to his inundated Clunes property, where his 21-year-old daughter is stranded by herself.