The devastating floods in NSW and Queensland have left a nation shocked but generous Aussies have responded in the only way they know how – by raising millions of dollars for the victims.
More than 40,000 households were affected and 20 people lost their lives across South-East Queensland and New South Wales. Thousands of families face a desperate struggle to get back on their feet as the floods washed away a lifetime of memories, destroyed homes and wrecked businesses.
By 11.30pm, four hours after the Telethon started, The Australia Unites: Red Cross Flood Appeal had raised nearly $22.5million for flood victims.
Australians have been shocked by the images coming out of Queensland and NSW over the last ten days, with families losing loved ones and homes, helpless residents taking refuge on roofs, vehicles sinking in flood waters and animals scrambling to find shelter.
Aussie businesses stepped up by pledging to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Two of the biggest donations of the night came from mining billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forest, who donated $1 million through the Minderoo Foundation, and John and Linda Van Lieshout, founders of the Super A-Mart furniture store chain.
There was support from the other governments around the country too. The states of WA and Victoria donated $2million, with $1m from South Australia.
A wide range of celebrities donated their time by answering phones at Red Cross Call Centres across the country, where donations were rolling in from thousands of adults and children.
Many celebrities also sent messages of support from across the globe.
But most of the night brought light-hearted entertainment into homes across the country.
Some of the acts included Tones and I, The Wiggles, Baker Boy, The Living End, Kate Miller-Heidke, Casey Chambers, Gang of Youths, Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian and Missy Higgins.
Singers performed from Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, the Brisbane Convention Centre and Nine’s studios in Sydney.
The appeal crossed live to Brunswick Heads where former Nine Network CEO David Gyngell, soap opera royalty Delvene Delaney, tennis legend Pat Rafter, surfing champ Mick Fanning and actress Bridie Carter shared their experiences in the Northern Rivers.
Delvene shared with viewers how her grandsons were found floating on a mattress in the middle of the night while Bridie reminded Aussies the clean up is “not a sprint, it is a really long run”.
Fanning explained how he was “flying by the seat of his pants” as he launched his own “pretty wild” rescue operation.