households received a
grant from the Flood Appeal


distributed in funds as
a result of the Flood Appeal
in NSW


estimated evacuations
due to the floods


Extreme rainfall hit the east coast of Australia in March 2021 and extended for an unprecedented period, producing widespread flooding in NSW, ranging from the North Coast down to Sydney. 

The rain front resulted in the coast’s wettest week ever, causing record floods river systems, with the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment experiencing its most significant flooding for more than 30 years.

The flooding necessitated the evacuations of an estimated 18,000 residents in areas that ranged from the Mid North Coast to some suburbs of Sydney. Many properties and businesses were destroyed, and lives threatened. 

Relief agencies and local communities were quick to respond. Proudly, the Society was in the forefront of the emergency response.  

The Society launched a Flood Appeal to help people who had already lost their homes and those facing further evacuations. 

The Mid-North Coast was especially hard hit, with much property damage and the tragic loss of large numbers of stock. Society network of members swung into action to help these communities with practical assistance and emotional support. As our Regional President of the Manning, Deacon Vince Ryan, said, ‘Vinnies needs help to provide everyday necessities to people who’ve been displaced by the floods.’ 

A veteran of the bushfire relief effort of a year earlier, Deacon Ryan was no stranger to natural disaster, and his calls to action were heeded, as was our public campaign for donations.

When the flooding subsided, the need for assistance did not, which is always the case following natural disasters. The bushfire experience showed how the financial and emotional impacts can last for years. As our members know at first-hand, the Society’s commitment to help communities, families and individuals is a long-term one. 

The funds donated to the Vinnies Flood Appeal enabled the rapid provision of financial assistance for people most affected, with members on the ground able to help relief efforts such as offering food, clothing and emotional support. 



Among the many flood-affected families were Matthew and Chrystie Williams and their young children from Cundletown, near Taree, in the Manning River catchment area. Matthew’s workplace was flooded, despite a rush to place sandbags to prevent further damage.  

By the afternoon the water had risen to his knees inside the shop. Their neighbour’s house and a nearby paddock with horses were flooded. They had a nervous time as the waters rose, but the family’s house survived. Outside, people were in canoes. Chrystie received a text message from the SES to prepare for an evacuation.  

Fortunately, they didn’t need to flee their home, however other houses were submerged by water nearly six metres deep, and some were swept away, powerless in the face of weather at its wildest.  

‘Being a small community everyone gets in to help each other,’ Chrystie said.  

‘The impact of the floods could be worse than the fires [of late 2029-2020]… the cost to fix businesses, some will be forced to close down.’ 

Along with the financial losses, the emotional impact of another disaster took a high toll, yet communities have remained resilient in the face of such events.  

The Society’s Regional President of the Manning, Deacon Vince Ryan, said, ‘Vinnies has a network of members living in these communities across the state who are ready to provide people with practical assistance and emotional support.’  

Gai Bradford from Kempsey’s All Saints Conference, and Regional President, said the Pacific Highway was blocked off due to flooding: ‘Houses were being evacuated and shops sandbagged… On one of those rainy days we had in excess of 200mm in 24 hours, on another we had 195mm – that’s a lot of rain in such a short period of time.’ 

Gai added, ‘The Disaster Recovery Centre was set up for the bushfires, now we’ve had floods and drought. We’d been helping a client who has an oyster farm… the run-off from the ash went down the river and killed all their oysters – they lost their total income.’ 

Christine Coorey, President of Port Macquarie’s St Agnes’ Conference, said a range of support services were set up in disaster recovery centres but the problems were compounded by homelessness, a big issue locally: ‘We desperately needed crisis accommodation here and we don’t have any.’