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With the Northern Rivers flood recovery effort now in full swing, volunteers were given a special thank you by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian during a visit to Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

The Premier, who toured the devastated regions around Lismore and Murwillumbah with Troy Grant, Minister for Emergency Services, and Thomas George, state Member for Lismore, met with volunteers and University facilities and security staff who have been helping at the Evacuation Centre, based on campus.

Among those attending were representatives from the Department of Family and Community Services, Red Cross, Salvation Army, St John’s Ambulance, Anglicare, Uniting Care, Disaster Welfare Services and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

“I am here to say in the most humble way possible, thank you,” the Premier said after shaking hands with all the volunteers.

“Just know that all of us are with you. A lot of people are still going through shock. They’re not going to really appreciate what’s happened to them or their families or their businesses for the next few days. We know everyone will be here to support them in terms of the community – and so will we with the emergency recovery effort.

“I know that this will take weeks and months for people to get back on their feet. I want everyone to know we are here for the long haul and we deeply appreciate your efforts. It’s a privilege to be here.”

Premier Berejiklian also made special mention of the two University security staff – Simon Piper and Sean Lampard – who had each done 12 shifts in a row to keep the doors of the Evacuation Centre open.

“I’m sure there’s other stories like that,” she said.

Troy Grant also thanked the volunteers.

“I’d like to thank not only the emergency service personnel, but also Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward sends her thanks to all the welfare agencies who have done a stellar job,” the Minister said.

“The recovery won’t just be the financial, the tangible goods that have been lost ... it’s going to be an emotional journey that people will go on.

“Local member Thomas George has told us about all your efforts, which have been exemplary. So thank you very much. It’s heartfelt thanks from Minister Goward and myself.”

Thomas George said many people were offering help to get businesses back on their feet.

“People are looking forward to working with each other and supporting each other and being able to re-build Lismore, Murwillumbah and the whole area as the place that we know,” he said.

Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker praised the efforts of all the volunteers and the strong community involvement in getting the region back on its feet as quickly as possible.

“I grew up in a country with extreme weather, called Canada. I have never seen anything like what happened last week in my whole life. I can imagine the absolute fear that many people felt. And the response that all of you have made to those with that shock and fear has been just outstanding,” Professor Shoemaker said.

“That’s the spirit of the Northern Rivers.”

Media contact: Brigid Veale, head of Communications and Publications Southern Cross University, 66593006 or 0439 680 748.