NSW Floods: Bags packed under evacuation warnings

Anxious wait for housebound Western Sydney residents, as community steps up to do its bit.

Reading Time: 4 minutes


The Ahmedi family in Hawkesbury have had their bags packed ever since they received the SES evacuation warning. Should the evacuation order come, they are ready to jump into the car and drive out.

“We are safe at the moment, but there’s no way of getting out of the area,” Rafia told Indian Link. “Bells Line of Road is closed and the bridges are all under water.”

She can’t get to work in Marsden Park, where she’s a real estate agent, and the kids are home from school.

Their home on an 11-acre property is in a valley, so the water is flowing down currently.

“Around the house it’s ok, but further down, there’s lots of water and it’s not safe,” Rafia revealed. “Our closest shops are in North Richmond and the Aldi there is stripped bare. The delivery trucks cannot get through, and people have stocked up.  I was at the chemist’s – the only one that’s open right now – and there was a long line of people waiting.”

This is not the first time the Ahmedis have packed their bags following an evacuation warning. They had done so only a year or so ago, when the devastating bushfires came close to their home.

“Yes, so we know what to pack – essentials and some valuables!”

Where will they go?

“Probably Lithgow, if Bells Line of Road opens up. There have been landslides, and they do clear them up frequently to let a few cars through. We have family there – we are asked to go to friends or family, and as a last resort to community shelters that have been organised for the purpose.”

Source: NSW SES

READ ALSO: Sydney Nirankaris raise $20,000 for bushfire relief

They have no idea how long they’ll be away.

“It depends on when the water goes down and it’s safe for people to get back to their properties.”

Meanwhile, Rafia keeps checking around the house, to see if water is getting in.

“I am slightly anxious, yes,” she admitted. “We are stocked up for a week. If the situation doesn’t get back to normal after that, then I’ll start to stress!”

Bethany’s family in the Nepean region at Cranebrook have also put in place their evacuation plan.

“Water and groceries have been bought in bulk in case of an emergency,” Bethany told Indian Link.

Her family home has not suffered any damage, although some 200 mm of rain has pelted down.

“The river behind has risen up to 2 meters, inundated with water swirling up to road level,” she described. “We’ll only evacuate if this reaches 3 meters.”

She admitted though that she’s anxious about an evacuation scenario.

“I’m quite concerned about how I will react with two small children.”

water damage nsw floods
Water continues to collect outside Rafia’s house (supplied)

Government support

Severe warning continues for the entire state of NSW.

The world has now seen shocking pictures of animals, cars, full homes floating down streets that have become waterways. Rain falls unabated and the Warragamba Dam pours out on a daily basis a volume of water claimed to be as much as Sydney Harbour. 18,000 people have been evacuated, and the Australian Defence Forces have now stepped in to help those stranded.

Meanwhile the NSW government has made disaster declarations for 34 local government areas, announcing funding for those who have lost homes, or have belongings damaged; for cleaning and restoring public assets; support for primary producers, and loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations.

Seva: The community does its bit

Community social media is beginning to see an increasing number of posts from regular citizens offering accommodation and all manner of help.

A member of Indians in Sydney FB group offers aid.
Source: Facebook

The state’s Sikh community are out and about once again, offering help with food wherever they see a need. (Twitter has described them admiringly as “the SES of food”). The first sighting of turbaned volunteers came from Taree, where they distributed food packets in front of McDonalds on Pacific Highway.

Closer home to us in Sydney, Lucky Singh of Guru Nanak Free Kitchenette was out braving the rains at Hawkesbury with her husband Balbir Singh and a crew of supporters supplying fresh home-cooked food to SES volunteers, flood-affected victims and evacuees.

guru nanak free kitchenette
Guru Nanak Free Kitchenette with SES volunteers. Source: Facebook

She spoke on Indian Link Radio as she drove home at 8pm, telling broadcaster Manoj Menon, “We couldn’t get to the Warragamba Dam region as the roads were closed off. But we drove through Windsor, Hawkesbury, Richmond, stopping to talk to SES workers and evacuees. We gave out food, fresh fruit, water. Charon taraf trahee trahee machi hui hai. (There’s disaster all around). We saw full homes submerged, people sheltering in cars… it was quite overwhelming. At the SES centres, we saw volunteers resting, many of them in exhausted sleep. We left food packs for them.”

Lucky added that she and many of her volunteers have taken a week off work for this seva (service). They gather at her home early, to cook and pack vast amounts of food, before heading out in the rain to Western Sydney.

“The least we can do as people see their properties damaged or lost, is provide a fresh hot meal.”

Donate to Guru Nanak Free Kitchenette at www.gnfks.com.au

With contributions by Aadithya Thilak, Year 10 student of Parramatta High School, completing a week of work experience at Indian Link.

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Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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