MEDIA RELEASE: Jenny Aitchison calls for Maitland to be declared a natural disaster zone
The Member for Maitland, Jenny Aitchison, has called for areas around Maitland to be declared a natural disaster zone in the wake of the storms earlier this week and significant flooding caused by them.
Ms Aitchison said she had spent the last few days speaking with residents, business owners and primary producers who are suffering substantial losses.
Ms Aitchison said farmers affected by flood waters were again facing massive crop and feed losses caused by water which was being exacerbated by the warm weather the area is now experiencing.
"Once the ground is lying under water, warm weather kills the vegetation. One farmer I spoke to was due to harvest silage over the next two weeks and will now lose all of that," said Ms Aitchison.
"Others have told me they face having to buy in feed. One farmer told me the cost to feed his cattle would be in the order of $300-$400 per day. After the April storms he just won't be able to afford it."
"I have spoken to the Minister for Emergency Services and asked him to make declarations regarding Maitland, Port Stephens and Newcastle as they have all been significantly affected by this situation."
"I have passed through several case studies to support my call, and I am hopeful we will have a positive outcome." "Declarations of natural disaster would unlock the door to applying for federal funding for Category C Disaster relief for primary producers. A number of these received $15,000 grants to assist them in replanting, repairing fences and replacing farm machinery after the April storms," said Ms Aitchison.
"A number of businesses have also been affected with flash flooding, as well as residents who were in the process of rebuilding from the April storms."
"To experience such a massive weather event twice in nine months is placing an extraordinary strain on our community and we really need the state government to come forward to help as many people as we can."
"I am also asking people in need to contact my office for assistance on 49331617 or email email@example.com so we can advise them if the funding does come through."
After the last storms Ms Aitchison contacted all primary producers in Maitland advising them of flood relief options and was pleased to see a number of them were successful in obtaining grants.