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Edition 22 – Emergency Response

Sunday the 5th of June, 2016 will be a day the people of South Western Sydney won’t forget for a long time.

More than 300mm of rain had fallen in a 36 hour period. This, after a month of almost no rainfall.

My home town, Camden, was cut off by flood waters.

My wife and our two sons just managed to make it home from Sydney before the roads closed in our area. She didn’t make it to the office for two days.

However, it was Picton, 20 minutes further south, up and over the magnificent Razorback Range, that was devastated.

The first opportunity I had to view how Picton was impacted was the following Thursday morning as I drove to a client meeting.

I’d heard how far up Argyle Street the flood had travelled. I knew all of the landmarks that people had mentioned. However, not until I experienced it for myself, even 4 days later, did I realise the impact.

Shops boarded up. The remnants of mud still laying in the streets. Fences with grasses and branches wrapped around them, evidence of how high the water had travelled.

Beyond the physical view, what struck me were the stories.

People scrambling to climb up on top of shop awnings to escape the rapid rise of flood waters.

Windows smashed with the force of water inside each building creating a getaway for anything and everything.

Further up Argyle Street, shoulder height water damage was common.

What also struck me was the spirit of the local community.

One of my great clients, whose business wasn’t impacted by the flood, save for the loss of phone and internet services, ventured into the heart of Picton on Monday afternoon just to give a hand. His words to me were the business owners would spend a week trying to clean up and still wouldn’t have made an impact.

People dug in to help each other out. A rallying cry for community spirit and resilience in the face of adversity.

The weeks and months ahead will be tough for all of those businesses.

There will be insurance claims to be made. Emergency Flood assistance to be handed out. Daily reminders of what happened, that were previously unseen.

The biggest impact that each of us can make on these businesses is to re-patronise them when they re-open.

They are almost entirely Family Businesses. The families of the owners rely on the businesses for their livelihood. The community relies on those businesses to provide local employment. The local region relies on the economic activity each of those businesses generates.

For all of us, when these businesses re-open, go to the pub for a drink. Pop in and grab a coffee from a local. Buy a gift from the homewares shop.

That will help each business get back on their feet financially.

More importantly, it will restore the faith in community and lift the spirit of those whose endurance has been, and continues to be tested.

The simple process of financially supporting each business through our patronage can bring much deeper and more valuable benefits for each family business owner than merely putting money in the till.

This Week’s Tip

Community spirit requires the involvement of everyone and a deep sense of connection. Let’s embrace it for the family business owners of Picton.