Flood clean-up assistance and advice
Guidance for flood-impacted households and businesses on managing water inundation, and staying safe during clean up.
Staying safe during flood clean-up
Never, drive, ride or walk through floodwater – the major cause of death during floods is by people entering floodwater, including kids playing in floodwater.
Floodwater and mud can contain garbage, chemicals, debris, sewage and other hazardous contaminants, such as disease-causing bacteria, fungi and viruses. Flooding can also lead to an increase in spiders and snakes. If you are bitten, stay calm and call Triple Zero (000).
If you are putting flood-damaged items out for collection, wear protective clothing.
Be careful around electricity, gas and water
If your gas, electricity or water supply is damaged or disconnected, do not attempt to reconnect the service yourself.
Stay away from fallen power lines
After floods and storms, fallen power lines may be live and cause electrocution.
You can also call energy providers to report electricity damage, including:
Solar panels may be dangerous
Solar panels produce electricity even when power has been cut and the panels turned off at the switchboard.
Flood-affected residents should read the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) warning about solar panels.
Call the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) on 1300 889 198 to find local electricians to make solar panels safe.
Check gas connections
Gas supply can be interrupted by a flood.
Ideally, home gas connections have been turned off before a flood event.
Gas appliances and gas bottles that have been exposed to floodwater should be inspected for safety before using them.
Read the Jemena gas outage explainer to understand the how gas supply is reconnected.
Contact your local gas provider for more information.
Be careful around buildings after a flood
Do not enter damaged buildings or structures, unless authorities tell you it is safe.
Be alert to snakes, spiders, rats and other wildlife that may have taken refuge in the building, structure or furniture.
Wall and floor cavities should be checked for mud, debris and floodwater. If items are not completely dry, mould or mildew may develop.
It's best for licensed builders, tradespeople and contractors to check and reconnect services and do any repair work associated with:
demolishing dangerous structures
electrical wiring, plumbing, drainage, gasfitting
air conditioners and solar energy panels.
Dealing with asbestos
Asbestos is in many houses and buildings, usually in the form of flat or corrugated sheets (fibro) used for walls, ceilings and roofing.
It can also be in pipes, electrical conduit, eaves or the backing under vinyl flooring.
A licensed asbestos removalist is the best way to remove asbestos, but this is not always possible after a disaster.
Asbestos materials are less of a risk when they are wet.
If members of the community find asbestos debris on their property, and a licensed removalist is not an option, they should at a minimum:
- Wear gloves and a P2 mask (not an ordinary paper mask or bandanna).
- Wear protective overalls or a shirt with long sleeves and trousers.
- Pick up (don’t sweep) the pieces of asbestos and place in a thick plastic bag, together with the gloves and face mask when finished.
- Knot the top of the plastic bag when finished.
- Place the knotted plastic bag into a second empty plastic bag and knot the top.
- Label the bag as asbestos materials.
- Wash and clean hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Read more on the NSW Government’s Asbestos in NSW website.
Cleaning up debris and waste
Clean-up support from local councils and state government authorities is usually available for residential and business properties.
Waste levies and safe disposal options
Local councils can help direct residents to dispose of rubbish and other waste. Read more on local information for flood-affected residents.
Residents can take flood-affected household items to their local landfill. The waste levy is usually waived in local government areas subject to natural disaster declaration.
Check your local landfill websites for opening hours and whether there are special requirements for disposing of flood-damaged waste.
You may wish to bag and safely store chemical or hazardous waste on your property to be disposed of safely later on.
Problem household wastes like fluorescent lights, smoke detectors, paint, gas bottles, fire extinguishers, batteries and oils can be taken to Community Recycling Centres for safe disposal.
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority runs Household Chemical Cleanout events to safely dispose of household chemicals that harm human health and the environment.
Cleaning up waterways
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) uses contractors to clean up shorelines and rivers. Aerial surveys also identify debris that needs to be cleared from affected areas.
Dealing with chemical waste after floods
Household and industrial chemicals can be damaged or washed long distances during a flood, putting people and the environment at risk.
Personal protective equipment, particularly gloves, should be used when handling and disposing of chemicals.
Speed up removal by separating different waste
Separate waste into:
- food waste – use your red lid bin first. If the bin is full, put food waste in a container
- hard bulk waste (furniture, carpets, mattresses)
- green waste (vegetation)
- scrap metal (whitegoods and e-waste)
- hazardous materials (gas bottles, paint, pool chemicals, unlabelled drums).
Northern Rivers flood-contaminated land assessment
If you're concerned the soil on your property may have been contaminated by the floods beginning in February 2022, you may be eligible for a free land assessment.
Your residential or small business property must be located within one of these local government areas:
- Clarence Valley
- Richmond Valley
Find out more and request an assessment online on the Service NSW website.
When cleaning your home or business
If you own a property
If you own a property, you are more likely to be responsible for clean up and repairs. Take photos and document any damage.
If you live in a strata managed property, such as an apartment block, strata may be responsible for some of the repairs.
Learn more about who's responsible for repairs and maintenance for strata property at NSW Fair Trading.
Find out more about handling waste and hazardous materials including asbestos.
If you rent a property
Contact your landlord or real estate agent if you rent and there is flood damage to the property. Take photos and document any damage.
Both tenants and landlords have certain rights and responsibilities when properties are affected by natural disasters.
Learn more about landlord and tenant rights in a flood.
Checks to make before doing repairs
Before repairing or rebuilding, you may want to
- check your insurance policy and contact your insurer
- take photos and document evidence of the damage before you remove or dispose of items
- check the licence credentials or qualifications of any tradespeople you might employ
- check with your local council if approvals or permits are needed.
Learn more about what to do before starting repairs to your property.
Find out more about insurance and legal support.
Mail redirection with Australia Post
If you are affected by a natural disaster, you may be eligible for up to 12 months of free mail redirection.
Visit Free 12-month mail redirection for special circumstances to find out more.
Managing animals after a flood
Contact the Agriculture and Animal Services Hotline for information on:
- animal assessment and vet help
- stock euthanasia and burial
- emergency fodder and stock water
- livestock feeding and management
- the care of animals in evacuation centres.
Fodder for livestock
You can collect your fodder allocation when notified.
Sheltering and injured wildlife
Native wildlife can be displaced and injured by flooding.
If you see injured wildlife, call:
If you find an injured animal, and it is safe to do so, contain it in a covered box. Keep the box in a dark, quiet place while you wait for a rescuer, or take the animal in the box to a wildlife carer or vet.
Learn more about helping wildlife during floods.
Disposing of animal carcasses
If you intend to dispose of animal carcasses, it's important to note that:
- Onsite burial is the preferred option in most instances. Where there are large mortalities or where onsite issues, including size, soil type or water table, are problematic, disposal through a licensed landfill is usually the next option.
- Improper carcass disposal can have significant impacts on environmental, human and animal health. Careful planning and management of disposal is important. This is to ensure the safety of the community, other stock and the environment to minimise the risk of disease spread.
- Carcass disposal should occur as soon as possible after the animal has died.
- Animal owners and managers are legally responsible to make sure that disposal of carcasses does not adversely affect the environment.
Fencing washed away in a flood can create a public safety hazard.
If you’re regional landowner, call the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.
If you’re a primary producer and your fencing has been damaged you may be eligible for support through Special Disaster Grants. Up to $75,000 is available to successful applicants to help with the cost of repairs. Contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority for more details on 1800 678 593.
Read more about flood support for farmers and primary producers.
Landslides and flooding
Landslides are more likely to occur during or after flooding, as the ground structure can be unstable.
If you notice signs of a landslide, and you’re outside:
move away from the area
stay away from powerlines, embankments and trees that may be affected
If you’re inside a building and you can’t get out, take shelter. Move to a part of the building that is furthest away from the landslide.
Call Triple Zero (000) if your life is in danger.
Call SES on 132 500 for emergency help.
After a landslide, it is important to stay away from an affected area. The ground may continue to move and may be unsafe. Don't enter damaged buildings. Don't drive on damaged roads.
Utilities like electricity and gas may be affected. If you live or work near a landslide, make sure you have utilities checked by a professional before you use them.