A group of Fijian abattoir workers have become known as absolute heroes during the catastrophic flooding in northern NSW. They are, in short, bloody legends.
Throughout the week 45 Fijian abattoir workers have volunteered during the flooding of Lismore, including helping to save aged care residents and cleaning up post-flood.
Fijian volunteers made news this week after pitching in to rescue people from raging floods in north-eastern Australia.— Radio Australia (@radioaustralia) March 4, 2022
They arrived just weeks ago for work, but when floods paralysed the region they couldn't get to their jobs.
So they got to work helping the community instead. pic.twitter.com/usyGt5bZ1w
As #Lismore faces its worst-ever flood disaster, the Australian Defence Force has been called in to help.— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) February 28, 2022
It comes as Fijian abattoir workers aid SES and emergency volunteers to evacuate 60 nursing home residents.
Special #Floods coverage LIVE: https://t.co/6xYx5Tw6tp pic.twitter.com/U0jlEXRJaF
They’ve been volunteering since Monday. Many of the volunteers — who are here as part of the Pacific Labour Scheme (PALM) — only arrived in Lismore three weeks ago.
Semi Sailosi Lutua, one of the volunteers, told the ABC that they found people looking for help on a flood support Facebook group.
“We just told locals we’re here and we could help out,” he said.
“I was going down in the boats with mates grabbing all the people. It’s so sad man, seeing all the water everywhere.
“We go from rescues here [in Lismore] back to the evacuation centre … We stayed up late until 2am the other night just to help out in the evacuation centre to help people out.”
Another volunteer Apenisa Marau told The Daily Telegraph that the decision to volunteer was an “instinct”.
“With the boys, it is more just like an instinct. They just wanted to be out there to see what we could do for the community, it was such a coming together,” he said.
The group of men also helped rescue residents from an aged care home after it flooded. They worked with SES and emergency volunteers to save the 63 care home residents.
Marau told radio station 2GB about the experience.
“It was really hard, and quite terrifying trying to get those elderly people out of their homes,” he said.
“Most of them were bedridden, in wheelchairs, some of them were just trying to stay afloat.
‘They were pretty shocked by the time we reached them, but we were glad we were able to get them to safety.”
It’s an extraordinary example of bravery and generosity.
That bravery is particularly poignant given our literal politicians are telling people to crowdfund for flood recovery instead of using, I don’t know, our taxes?
We’re now privatising disaster relief https://t.co/BMkqlFKuFw— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) February 27, 2022
The Fijian community in Lismore have also volunteering during the clean up of the town. As well as helping with the practical side of things, vids emerged of the men singing during the clean up operation to raise the town’s spirits.
As the people of #Lismore begin major clean-up efforts after the recent flood devastation, the Fijian community have taken to the streets to spread some cheer.— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) March 4, 2022
The volunteers have been helping to evacuate flood-stricken residents while assisting with the recovery. #9News pic.twitter.com/ZV7MbEPBXg