Over a year ago, Bianca was trapped in the floods with her newborn. She still fears for her kids' safety.

18 months ago, Bianca's life looked significantly different to how it looks right now. 

In March 2022, she, her partner Kurt and their two kids - one aged four and the other a newborn - were terrified about losing their home - and even their lives - in the floods

Born and raised in the Northern Rivers town of Coraki (about 25 minutes away from Lismore), Bianca and her family live on the top of a hill, meaning their home was safe from the rising floodwaters that made national headlines, and was turned into a makeshift evacuation centre.

But fearing for the lives of others while running out of supplies, it was a very testing time

"For about three weeks we had lots of locals staying at our place, some we knew, some we didn't. There were a lot of elderly people, as well as families at our home, given they had all lost theirs. We had a lot of breastfeeding mothers, and we were struggling to get baby formula for them. So we had to do supply drops in boats," Bianca tells Mamamia. 

"My eldest daughter was scared too. She still remembers everything."

Watch: Inside Coraki the Australian town cut off by floods. Post continues below. 

Video via The Project.

Bianca still vividly remembers the first time she realised there was an inefficiency in help and support from the government and its services. 


"On that first night of the flood, my cousin in Coraki was stuck on a property on the other side of the river. We were madly calling the SES and emergency services to organise a rescue. They told us it wasn't going to happen."

A civilian managed to rescue Bianca's cousin via small boat, certainly saving the cousin's life.

Weeks later, Bianca received a call from the SES asking to see if the cousin still needed rescuing. 

In the past year and a half she has continued to see that lack of efficiency and support from the state government via numerous other examples. Bianca isn't the only Northern Rivers local frustrated.

People who were impacted by the floods in the region have slammed the government bureaucracy surrounding the delayed rollout of support funding. 

We've heard stories of one couple and their three kids having to live in caravans in the front yard of their Lismore home, which remains uninhabitable. 

Then there was Joyce, a 96-year-old grandmother who was displaced from her home of 30 years. 

Another local said she and her community are still trying to heal following the traumatic event - and yet they're being worn down and losing hope, after their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears. 

Following the floods in the region, the NSW Government announced the Resilient Homes Program. It aims to provide financial assistance to homeowners in the Northern Rivers by offering home buybacks, retrofits or raising. 


Anecdotally speaking at least in a town of thousands, Bianca tells Mamamia the number of locals she knows who have either benefitted from this program or being found eligible she could count on just one hand.

Bianca and her family during the flood period. Image: Supplied. 

"There's been a pretty big lack of funding in general, and it's been non-government-organisations that came through for us a few months on. But there's just not enough resources, and the promises made haven't been kept," she explains.


"The accusation now from locals is that the government rolled out this program purely so they couldn't be accused of inaction. But in terms of tangible impact - it's minimal."

The region's recovery efforts have also been caught up in political mud slinging. Bianca says their town's politicians have resorted to either blaming the government before them or the federal government - no one willing to work together to move forward. 

It's devastating for the people impacted, many of whom rendered homeless by the floods. Bianca refers to these locals as 'climate change refugees'. 

Fortunately for Bianca, her home was just safe from the floods. But the trauma from the whole ordeal is still palpable. 

She also understandably fears for her children's future. It's a topic that makes her very emotional.

"My eldest child remembers everything and is showing recent signs of trauma. Whenever she hears a helicopter - like the ones that flew through the town during the floods - she has a trauma response to that noise," says Bianca.

"I'm a fifth generation Coraki local. I'd like my kids to grow up here too. But when you look at the climate maps [for the Northern Rivers region], it does bring a lot of fear."

In terms of climate anxiety, there's a mixed response from people in the region. Some refuse to believe the floods were climate change related, whereas many acknowledge the overt correlation. Bianca is someone who is very passionate about action on climate change, her focus on the issue further fueled by what she's been through.


"I'm an ethical vegan for this reason - it's my response to environmental action. And I am still scared that in years to come when we will get the next major flood will happen and what it's going to look like," she says.

"So often we hear these floods described as 'unprecedented'. But in reality, we had data years ago from environmental scientists that said climate change was a real imminent threat to regions like the Northern Rivers. And given the data we have, it's clear this flood won't be a one-off."

Bianca and her partner today. Image: Supplied. 


Community means everything to Bianca. It's embedded in her family's history. 

She loves advocating articulately for her town and keeping the Coraki spirit alive. 

She's also been enjoying getting involved with the Hands & Hearts Project that has seen volunteers, skilled professionals and generous donors come together to rebuild 100 homes in the region. 

After years of heavy rainfall and rapid vegetation growth, a return to hot and dry El Niño conditions has placed the Northern Rivers squarely in the crosshairs of potentially catastrophic fires.

And in years to come, the threat of floods could emerge again. But despite this, Bianca and her loved ones plan on staying.

"I'm going to stay even though it scares me to stay. I feel like now that I'm on the frontline, I have the knowledge and experience to help in recovery. I'm not going to abandon my people now," she says.

"But I don't blame a lot of people if they want to leave, even though that will likely have a knock-on economic impact on the town. But seeing how hard it is for people to access support - I understand why people feel no choice but to go."

Ultimately, for Bianca she wants to make sure people in the cities don't forget about what the regions have endured.

"Our town barely survived. Thank goodness we have come together and we're rebuilding as a community - without that spirit, I don't know what we would have done." 

Feature Image: Supplied.