Dungog learns from the past in preparing for the future

In April 2015, the community of Dungog in the New South Wales Hunter region, was hit by a ‘super storm.’

Local residents awoke to flash flooding and storm water rushing through the town - more than 1.5 metres higher than the predicted one in a hundred year levels.

This super storm wreaked havoc, resulting in the loss of three lives, destroying many homes, businesses, community facilities and infrastructure, and decimated primary production in the area.

After the immediate recovery efforts, when businesses reopened, kids went back to school and life went back to some form of normality – the topic of the town’s preparedness was a consistent discussion. However, it became clear that people still didn’t prioritise preparedness above the daily routine, commitments and challenges, even though in light of the recent events, they knew they should.

Helping the community be better prepared

Recognising this situation, Dungog Information & Neighbourhood Service Inc. initiated Project Bounce Forwards. It was designed to encourage and support disaster preparedness and resilience capacity building in Dungog and surrounds.

To help bring this important project to life, the Dungog Information & Neighbourhood Service received a $14,200 grant from the Domino’s Give for Good program. The funding helped the project team to run a series of Community Preparedness Expos and distribute preparedness kits, reaching more than 350 households within the Dungog and Stroud areas, as well as a further 42 homes from neighbouring communities.

Project Bounce Forwards in action

Project Bounce Forwards’ approach was to support the community both emotionally and physically by providing accurate, appropriate and timely information and resources, so that people felt informed and empowered.

The Community Preparedness Expos involved a range of emergency services agencies, including SES, Rural Fire Service, Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industry and Red Cross, which addressed the wide-ranging individual needs of local community members.

Residents were to encouraged to build a preparedness kit for their household, including a preparedness plan. To support them, they received a pack which included:

  • SES Flood Document Wallet – for birth certificates, passports, passwords etc
  • 4-way torch (AM radio, wind-up battery, USB mobile phone charger and torch)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Preparedness information sheet
  • RFS Fire Plan information sheet
  • SES Flood Safe information sheet.

Practical advice, with a lasting impact

The Expos and preparedness kits were a real success and feedback from participants was very positive. Attendees were pleased with the simple and practical advice on offer, with lots of ideas that they could easily put into practice within their home.

Several participants said they learnt that preparedness is more than just having a plan - it is having the knowledge and being connected to information to feel empowered to take your own action.

As one resident said, “To have someone who knows what we are going through and knows what is out there to help is great, because it can be so confusing and stressful.”

In their report, the Dungog Information & Neighbourhood Service Committee wrote that the Expos helped attendees to feel safer, more confident and more prepared for another severe weather event in the future.

The impact of Project Bounce Forwards will go beyond the Expos themselves, now locals feel equipped to talk with family and friends about preparedness and empowered to make their own decisions.

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