PORT Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Service (PSFNS) has been pushed to its limits after helping hundreds of the Port’s most vulnerable residents after the April 20 storm.
Manager Colleen Whittle said it was usual for between eight and 10 people to contact PSFNS in any given day of the week for help with emergency relief.
However, on April 27 (the day PSFNS got power back to its Raymond Terrace office) the service saw 50 people seeking emergency relief.
Ms Whittle said the service directed an additional 30 people to the evacuation centre for assistance.
“Most of all last week we were seeing between 30 and 50 people a day,” Ms Whittle said.
“This essentially used up much of our [emergency relief] funding.”
While staff helped adult residents with sourcing food, clothing and shelter, early childhood program co-ordinator Debbie Jones helped children cope with the after-effects of the storm.
Ms Jones said many of the children, aged from 1 to 5 years-old who took part in PSFNS’s playgroup, had a background of trauma or anxiety.
The storm and flood was a major source of anxiety, which was why Ms Jones said she raised the topic with the children, having them paint a picture to express their feelings about the event.
“I was surprised how foremost in their minds the storm was,” she said when asked about the children’s response to the topic.
The only PSFNS building that was damaged in the flood was The Deck in Kangaroo Street, Raymond Terrace.
The Port Stephens Council-owned hall – which acted as the service’s youth drop-in centre – sustained major flood damage.
Computers and other electronic goods, and furniture owned by PSFNS had been ruined by the floods.
The youth drop-in centre will operate in a limited capacity from Friday, May 8, at 5 Philip Road, Raymond Terrace between 3.30pm and 6.30pm.
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