First the deluge, then the clean-up. Rather than feeling helpless, the sight of her beloved hometown, left bruised, muddy and soggy, spurred Maddy Braddon, who recently completed a Southern Cross University environmental science degree, into action.
Maddy, along with Katie Cooper-Wares and Mandie Kai, are the founders of the Facebook group ‘Lismore Helping Hands & After Flood Clean Up – Northern NSW’ which connects volunteers with people in need across the city.
The group has reached more than 5000 members in four days and is now a key point of contact for anyone wanting to help with the recovery effort.
“People are helping with the flood effort in various ways, like accommodation, food, business support, farm support, street clean up, pets and animals,” said Maddy.
“People are organically helping each other using our platform. This is all a result of us organising this grassroots Lismore Helping Hands page.
“There are already so many success stories out of this Lismore Helping Hands platform, like people helping elderly people do heavy lifting, portable showers for people who’ve had water and power cut off,” Maddy said.
“It’s incredible and inspiring. We have not stopped as a team since Thursday. It makes it all worth it.”
Lismore Helping Hands has the support of Lismore City Council, the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Southern Cross University. Many local organisations and community groups are now coming on board as well, with volunteers and clean-up and re-build materials.
Maddy, Katie, Mandie and their coordination team have just set-up a permanent base in the South Lismore railway station after working from kitchen tables since disaster struck.
Maddy recently completed the combined Bachelor of Environmental Science/Bachelor of Marine Science and Management at Southern Cross University and will graduate in September.
“I don’t have a lot of experience in disaster relief at all,” Maddy said. “But I have volunteer coordination experience, thanks to lots of community activities I engaged with during my degree, and I’m good at social media. What we’ve achieved is overwhelming, it’s wonderful.”
Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker was full of praise for Maddy’s role in setting up Lismore Helping Hands.
“This is a wonderful story about solutions being driven by invention and cleverness,” Professor Shoemaker said.
“The fact is that ‘Helping Hands’ is a student start-up which is taking off across the community, combining Maddy’s own initiative and drive with the skills she gained during her University degree.
“It is a wonderful story about responding to a time of crisis and need caused by the recent floods.”
You can connect with ‘Lismore Helping Hands & After Flood Clean Up – Northern NSW’: