The NSW SES commissioner pointed to worse-than-expected weather, explaining why civilian rescue helicopters were left on the ground across the state when flood waters covered northern rivers.
Commissioner Carlin York says emergency crews expected only small or moderate floods in the region and expected the downpour to be less than the extreme weather that flooded the north coast last year.
“We have the proper resources at these levels,” Ms York insisted on Sunday.
Instead, cities were hit by record floods, including in Lismore, where water was two meters higher than any previous recorded events.
Meanwhile, helicopters have been deployed in areas such as Kuma, near the Snow Mountains, to be on alert in case of floods that never arrived.
Choppers were sent where they were not needed
Ms York said the biggest flood in the North Rivers happened at night, when rescue teams were limited in what they could do.
NSW Labor leader Chris Mins said private helicopters paid for by taxpayers were not used on either the North Coast or West Sydney.
“For me and many others, the response to the disaster itself looks like a disaster in New Wales,” he said.
“You have a situation where residents did not ask, but asked for help from their own government.”
When attention is paid to cleanup, the New South Wales government has set up eight recovery centers to provide access to services, and $ 25 million will be spent on mental health support.
“The re-effect of so many disasters … is doing a lot of damage to people,” said Resilience NSW chief Shane Fitzsimans.
Prime Minister Dominique Perottet said the review would also look at how long it took to provide protection in flood zones to help rescue and rebuild.
He said he would have preferred troops to be on the ground in disaster zones sooner, but did not want his comments to be seen as “fighting” with his federal counterparts.
“That’s what we need to look at, it’s not negative,” Mr Perrottet said.
The rivers are finally falling
The floods on the outskirts of Sydney in the Hawkesbury-Nepian area, where Mr Perrotet was on Sunday, began to fall.
But the danger was far from over, and Ms York confirmed that three rescues had been carried out in the 24 hours since Saturday morning.
A national state of emergency was declared at NSW late Friday, which will speed up federal access to accumulated resources and allow for faster financial assistance.
Meanwhile, residents of a dozen councils in New Wales are eligible for disaster relief, with one-off payments of $ 1,000 per adult and $ 400 per child available to victims.
Workers, businesses and farmers who have lost profits can also apply for assistance for 13 weeks.
The first 20 motorhomes were expected in the region on Sunday, followed by another 100. Temporary housing is the first phase of a $ 551 million housing support package.
As of Friday, about 5,500 damaged homes had been assessed, and about half were found habitable.
The Insurance Council of Australia estimates that more than 126,000 claims in Queensland and New Wales will cost insurers $ 1.89 billion, but recognizes that additional claims are possible.
“It’s going to be a long way back,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters during a tour of the flooded Windsor region on Saturday.