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The banks are offering customers affected by the NSW floods loan repayment deferrals, among other forms of financial aid, while the Insurance Council of Australia has declared a catastrophe for much of the state, as the natural disaster continues to intensify.
Torrential rain in parts of NSW has caused flash flooding and damage across the state, especially in towns lining the North Coast, forcing thousands of evacuations and causing extensive property damage.
As such, Aussie lenders are extending various forms of financial help to customers impacted by the floods, including:
Speaking about the current weather event, Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh urged impacted customers to contact their banks.
“Once the cleanup begins, it’s important for people to know that they can talk to their bank to seek assistance”, Ms Bligh said in a statement.
“The message from banks is clear: Don’t tough it out on your own, your bank is ready to help”.
Insurers stand ready
Similarly, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has now declared a catastrophe for much of the state.
This means that claims from affected policyholders will be given priority by insurers; claims will be triaged to direct urgent assistance to the worst-affected property owners; and ICA representatives will be mobilised to work with local agencies and services and affected policyholders as soon as emergency services say it is safe to do so.
Moreover, insurers are also set to mobilise disaster response specialists who will assist affected customers with claims and assessments as soon as it is considered safe to do so.
The developing situation across South-East Queensland will also be monitored to determine if a catastrophe declaration is also required there.
"It’s too early to understand the extent of the damage to property in affected areas and to estimate the insurance damage bill, however insurers have received over 5,000 claims in the past few days," said Andrew Hall, CEO, Insurance Council of Australia.
"As many areas are currently inaccessible due to floodwater, insurers are expecting further claims in coming days as emergency services allow residents to return to their properties to examine the extent of their damage and losses," Mr Hall noted.
Moreover, on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison activated the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) for 18 NSW local government areas.
This means that one-off payments of $1,000 for adults and $400 for children have been made available to flood-affected communities.
Additionally, people eligible for DRA can access income assistance for up to 13 weeks, equivalent to the maximum rate of JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance.
Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the package provides assistance to those who had suffered a significant loss, including a severely damaged or destroyed home, serious injury or who have lost a family member.
“Our first concern is for the safety and needs of those directly affected, particularly those whose homes have been inundated by floodwaters,” Minister Littleproud said.
“It is clear that additional Australian government assistance is needed to support the community to recover from this extraordinary weather event,” the Minister noted.
The Public Information and Inquiry Centre provides information about the severe weather at any time of day on 1800 227 228. For emergency help in floodwaters, call the NSW SES on 132 500.