It Takes a Village to Rebuild a Community

Faced with tragedy, our community has never been one to back down. And the past week’s flood recovery efforts supported heavily by locals, Fire and Rescue and RFS members, local council, and local businesses, shows that the Hawkesbury has never lost its strong community spirit.

People from all walks of life have left the comfort of air cons to get their hands dirty and scrub concrete-like sediment from walls, sort through flood-damaged possessions and carry ruined furniture out to be taken away.

One local business that has made efforts to assist in the clean-up is Indigenous specialist business Eather Group. Under the direction of Hawkesbury City Council, Eather Group, supported by international demo company Delta Group, has donated large bins and a Semi-tipper truck, hopping from street to street to collect and dispose of much of the damaged items from flood-affected houses.

North Street on Sunday 28th of March was full of community members, generous volunteer RFS members, and even ex PM Tony Abbott assisting multiple flood-affected residents in loading the Eather Group truck before it was emptied and sent to a new location in Mileham street to assist the clean up there. As it arrived, local Firies stopped by to chip in and do some heavy lifting for a couple who lost decades of possessions from their lower level and garage.

Just days later, the community rallied on Facebook for volunteers to help a family who had lost everything in South Windsor, and the community provided. Even at the very end of the day, 17 Strangers of all ages and abilities worked together to lift damaged possessions into the Eather Group truck and Delta Group bin. One such volunteer was an elderly man from Oakville Who spent his day loading the truck Tetris style to fit as much as possible into the back because “I would have just been mowing anyway.”

Together the volunteers cleared three truck and one bin load of waste in one day, and also worked to clear up the surrounding Park from washed up debris.

“Residents have to emotionally part with every ruined item and comprehend the damage. That’s what makes this process so heartbreaking.”

Divinia Eather, Eather Group’s Marketing Manager commented on the extent of the destruction.

“It’s an honour to be able to provide some relief to a community that has been so generous to me and my family in the past.”

(From left) Noel Eather, Divinia Eather, Luke Eather, Sally-ann Eather

The Eather family have a long history and connection to the Hawkesbury, dating back to original colonial settlements. And their extensive history is marked tragically with 12 members of the Eather family famously having lost their lives in the Great 1867 flood, which reached 19.7m at its peak. Today, many Eathers who could be found assisting in the clean up, including volunteers from the RFS, Noel and Luke Eather, who provided some much needed manpower for the affected families on North Street.

The efforts of all community members, and certainly non-locals who have put their lives on hold to help strangers, are greatly appreciated by residents who are working to get their lives back. It truly takes a village to recover from such destruction, and out of tragedy has come generosity that is so central to what makes the Hawkesbury special.