A scathing NSW parliamentary inquiry into the February-March floods has called for Resilience NSW to be abolished and a major overhaul of the State Emergency Service in the wake of the disaster.
Ultimately, the committee found that these two organisations failed to provide leadership and effective coordination in the community's greatest time of need.
In many cases, flood warnings and evacuation information was found to be out of date, inaccurate and confusing.
According to the chairman of the Select Committee on the Response to Major Flooding Across NSW, Labor's Walt Secord, the community was "forced to save themselves".
"Many community members felt that they had no choice but to conduct their own rescues in dangerous conditions as many calls for assistance to 000 and the NSW SES went unanswered," he said in the committee's report, which was handed down Tuesday.
"Put simply, the community was forced to save themselves; neighbour saving neighbour."
Mr Secord said demarcation disputes between SES and Resilience NSW had led to a lack of integration and slowed the roll-out of support and assistance to flood-affected communities.
It has been recommended the NSW Government should consider restructuring the SES to ensure that it better harnesses local knowledge and networks, coordinates more closely with other rescue agencies, and increases resources, including by driving volunteer recruitment.
But most damning was the assessment of Resilience NSW's performance during the floods.
"Witnesses repeatedly expressed frustration and were confused about the role of Resilience NSW, particularly in the recovery phase following the floods," Mr Secord stated in the report.
"The committee found that the NSW Government failed to comprehend the scale of the floods and treated the disaster response as a 'nine to five' business operation - when it was one of the greatest natural disasters in generations.
"The agency failed to engage or coordinate with community groups leading flood recovery efforts in their communities."
In total, the committee made 21 findings and 37 recommendations. The committee received almost 90 submissions and almost 120 responses to its online questionnaire. It held six public hearings. This included ones in Ballina; Lismore; Murwillumbah; Windsor; and two at Parliament House.
Moving forward, the committee said the focus should be on the enormous task of clean-up, restoration and reconstruction.
"Many flood affected individuals, families and businesses still need assistance. The NSW Government must work with much greater urgency to secure temporary housing options as many continue to live in tents and cars near their homes," Mr Secord said in the report.
"The committee also calls on the government to finalise its long term housing options and ensure that it considers investing in supporting relocations, land swaps, and providing fair compensation for landowners who wish to relocate from severely flood-impacted areas."
The committee also made practical recommendations such as providing satellite phones and satellite terminals to community hubs in flood-prone areas.
The parliamentary inquiry is one of two inquiries into the floods.
The other is the independent inquiry headed by Mary O'Kane and Mick Fuller, which has delivered its report to the NSW Government but is yet to release it to the public.
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